Toward development of a vocal fold contact pressure probe: Bench-top validation of a dual-sensor probe using excised human larynx models

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A critical element in understanding voice production mechanisms is the characterization of vocal fold collision, which is widely considered a primary etiological factor in the development of common phonotraumatic lesions such as nodules and polyps. This paper describes the development of a transoral, dual-sensor intraglottal/subglottal pressure probe for the simultaneous measurement of vocal fold collision and subglottal pressures during phonation using two miniature sensors positioned 7.6 mm apart at the distal end of a rigid cannula. Proof-of-concept testing was performed using excised whole-mount and hemilarynx human tissue aerodynamically driven into self-sustained oscillation, with systematic variation of the superior–inferior positioning of the vocal fold collision sensor. In the hemilarynx experiment, signals from the pressure sensors were synchronized with an acoustic microphone, a tracheal-surface accelerometer, and two high-speed video cameras recording at 4000 frames per second for top–down and en face imaging of the superior and medial vocal fold surfaces, respectively. As expected, the intraglottal pressure signal exhibited an impulse-like peak when vocal fold contact occurred, followed by a broader peak associated with intraglottal pressure build-up during the de-contacting phase. As subglottal pressure was increased, the peak amplitude of the collision pressure increased and typically reached a value below that of the average subglottal pressure. Results provide important baseline vocal fold collision pressure data with which computational models of voice production can be developed and in vivo measurements can be referenced.

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