Voice Disorders Between Functional and Organic Causes
Voice Disorders Between Functional and Organic Causes

Voice Disorders: Differentiating Between Functional and Organic Causes for Otolaryngology Board Examinations

Introduction

Voice disorders, a common concern in otolaryngology, affect individuals across various professions and health conditions. Understanding the distinction between functional and organic causes of voice disorders is essential for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. This comprehensive overview addresses topics pertinent to otolaryngology board examinations.

Functional vs Organic Voice Disorders

Functional voice disorders, such as hyperfunctional voice disorders (HVDs), are typically related to inefficient or abusive vocal behaviors. These include conditions like muscle tension dysphonia and vocal fold nodules, resulting in vocal effort, fatigue, pain, and potential voice loss. Organic voice disorders arise from physical changes in the vocal apparatus, such as nodules, polyps, or vocal cord paralysis [Abur et al., 2021].

Auditory Discrimination and Auditory-Motor Integration in HVDs

A study by Abur et al. (2021) highlighted that individuals with HVDs exhibit poorer auditory discrimination and impaired auditory-motor integration, indicating a significant role of auditory function in these disorders. This finding is crucial for understanding and treating motor aspects of HVDs.

Self-Assessment Protocols in Organic and Functional Dysphonia

Research by Yaşar et al. (2022) showed that the Voice Handicap Index-10 and Voice-Related Quality of Life questionnaires are equally important in both organic and functional dysphonia. This challenges the traditional view that functional voice disorders are solely dependent on emotional factors.

Voice Disorders in Infants at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Studies have found that infants at high risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exhibit abnormal neural responses to human voices, with some showing heightened sensitivity to emotional valence. This suggests that voice disorders may serve as early indicators of developmental disorders like ASD [Hurvitz & Weinberger, 2021].

Ambulatory Voice Monitoring

Ambulatory voice monitoring, which uses a miniature accelerometer on the neck surface below the larynx, has shown promise in diagnosing and treating hyperfunctional voice disorders. This technology provides insights into an individual’s vocal behaviors in daily activities [Kryukov et al., 2020].

Treatment Approaches

Treatment options for voice disorders range from voice therapy and phonosurgery to drug therapy. Phonosurgery, logopedic treatment, and vocal pedagogy are effective for common vocal problems in singers. Voice therapy has been successful in treating both functional and organic vocal disturbances. For chronic laryngitis associated with gastroesophageal reflux, drug therapy for the reflux disease has proven effective [Kim et al., 2021].

Conclusion

Differentiating between functional and organic causes of voice disorders is vital for appropriate treatment. Functional disorders often involve inefficient vocal behaviors, whereas organic disorders result from physical changes in the vocal apparatus. Ongoing research continues to enhance our understanding of these disorders, leading to improved treatment strategies and quality of life for affected individuals. As otolaryngologists’ knowledge of voice disorders expands, so too does their ability to effectively manage these conditions.

Voice Disorders Between Functional and Organic Causes Questions
Voice Disorders Between Functional and Organic Causes Questions

Voice Disorders: Differentiating Between Functional and Organic Causes Question:

Question 1

A 35-year-old professional singer presents with a hoarse voice. She reports that her voice has been progressively deteriorating over the past six months. She denies any pain, but mentions that she feels a strain while singing. What is the most likely diagnosis?

A) Vocal cord paralysis
B) Vocal fold nodules
C) Vocal fold polyps
D) Muscle tension dysphonia
E) Laryngeal cancer

Answer: D) Muscle tension dysphonia
Explanation: Muscle tension dysphonia is a common voice disorder among professional singers. It is a functional voice disorder that results from improper voice use or vocal mechanism misuse, often due to increased muscle tension. The patient’s symptoms of progressive voice deterioration and strain while singing, without pain, are characteristic of this condition.

Question 2

A 45-year-old male teacher complains of chronic hoarseness. He has a history of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and is a smoker. What is the most suitable initial step in control?

A) Voice therapy
B) Empirical treatment with antibiotics
C) Empirical treatment with corticosteroids
D) Immediate laryngoscopy
E) Phonosurgery

Answer: D) Immediate laryngoscopy
Explanation: In patients with risk factors such as smoking, hoarseness should be immediately evaluated by laryngoscopy. This is to rule out serious conditions such as laryngeal cancer. While voice therapy can be effective for functional voice disorders, it is crucial to first establish the correct diagnosis.

Question 3

A 30-year-old woman presents with voice fatigue and effortful speech. She is a non-smoker and has no history of GERD. She works as a call center agent. Her voice fundamental frequency (fo) shows worse auditory discrimination and a greater frequency of atypical adaptive responses. What is the most likely diagnosis?

A) Vocal fold nodules
B) Hyperfunctional voice disorder
C) Vocal cord paralysis
D) Laryngeal cancer
E) Vocal fold polyps

Answer: B) Hyperfunctional voice disorder
Explanation: Hyperfunctional voice disorders, such as primary muscle tension dysphonia, are common in individuals who use their voice extensively for their work, like call center agents. These disorders are characterized by effortful speech, voice fatigue, and worse auditory discrimination.

Question 4

A 50-year-old woman presents with a hoarse voice. She has a history of vocal fold nodules. She has been treated with voice therapy and her symptoms have improved significantly. What is the most likely explanation for her improvement?

A) The nodules have completely resolved
B) The voice therapy has reduced the strain on her vocal cords
C) The voice therapy has cured her GERD
D) The voice therapy has reversed the effects of smoking
E) The voice therapy has cured her laryngeal cancer

Answer: B) The voice therapy has reduced the strain on her vocal cords
Explanation: Voice therapy is often successful in the treatment of functional and organic vocal disturbances. It helps patients use their voice more efficiently, reducing strain on the vocal cords and improving symptoms.

Question 5

A 40-year-old man presents with a hoarse voice. He is a smoker and has a history of GERD. He reports that his voice quality has significantly worsened over the past year. What is the most appropriate next step in management?

A) Prescribe proton pump inhibitors
B) Recommend smoking cessation
C) Start voice therapy
D) Perform laryngoscopy
E) Start empirical antibiotics

Answer: D) Perform laryngoscopy
Explanation: In patients with risk factors such as smoking and GERD, hoarseness should be immediately evaluated by laryngoscopy. This is to rule out serious conditions such as laryngeal cancer. While smoking cessation, treatment of GERD, and voice therapy can be beneficial, it is crucial to first establish the correct diagnosis.

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