Dysphagia in Parkinson’s Disease Improves with Vocal Augmentation


While voice-related disorders in Parkinson’s disease (PD) are commonly discussed in the literature, dysphagia in PD is less widely published. Vocal fold augmentation, including injection laryngoplasty (IL), is a well-established treatment for glottal insufficiency (Cates et al. in Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 155(3):454–457, 2016). This study aimed to observe the effects of IL in PD patients with vocal bowing, with or without therapy, on glottic closure and patient-reported dysphagia outcomes. The study design was based on retrospectively collected database and cohort–case series. PD patients selected for retrospective review over a 2-year period were referred and evaluated in the Voice, Swallowing, and Airway multidisciplinary clinic by speech language pathologist and laryngologist, and were undergoing IL. Charts were reviewed for age, gender, Body Mass Index (BMI), onset of PD, and Movement Disorders Society-Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale Part 3 (MDS-UPDRS) scoring. We compared pre/postoperatively (> 1 < 3 months) using validated patient-reported outcome tools: Reflux Symptom Index (RSI), Glottal Function Index (GFI), Eating Assessment Tool-10 (EAT), and stroboscopic examinations. The study included 14 patients undergoing 22 IL or 1.6 IL/patient: mean age 70 years (63–80), 100% male, and BMI 25.9 ± 4.3 (mean ± SD). MDS-UPDRS scoring 33 ± 20 (moderate severity), with time between PD diagnosis and IL 8 ± 10 years. All patients had pre- and post-stroboscopic examinations; however, only 4:14 underwent formal swallowing evaluation. Overall, 14 IL patients improved on patient-reported measures (ΔRSI = 4; ΔGFI = 3; ΔEAT = 4). Based on the findings of the study, we conclude that PD is a progressive neurodegenerative condition with dysphagia. The presented pilot data suggest that IL may be considered as a beneficial adjunct for PD patients with glottal insufficiency.

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Correspondence to R. J. Howell.

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Howell, R.J., Webster, H., Kissela, E. et al. Dysphagia in Parkinson’s Disease Improves with Vocal Augmentation. Dysphagia 34, 862–868 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00455-019-09982-z

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  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Parkinsonism
  • Injection laryngoplasty
  • Dysphagia
  • Vocal augmentation