Botulinum toxin management of adductor spasmodic dysphonia after failed recurrent laryngeal nerve section

Lucian Sulica, Mitchell F. Brin, Andrew Blitzer, Celia F. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) treatment of adductor spasmodic dysphonia patients who had previously undergone recurrent laryngeal nerve section that failed to control symptoms. Information was retrieved from records of patients treated by our group between 1984 and 1999. Complete records with standardized outcome measurements were available for 181 BTX-A injection sessions in 16 patients who had had nerve section. These were compared to previously published information regarding 4,621 sessions in 639 adductor spasmodic dysphonia patients also treated by our group. Treatment with BTX-A resulted in significant improvement in voice function in the studied patients (change, 38.2% ± 24.5%; p<.0001). The onset of effect took place approximately 2.3 days after treatment, and the peak effect about 10.0 days after treatment. The therapeutic effect lasted 14.1 weeks on the average. These features were not significantly different from those observed in adductor spasmodic dysphonia patients as a whole. The incidence of complications was also comparable. However, lower baseline and peak posttreatment perceptions of voice function in the nerve section group were statistically significant (baseline, 45.6% ± 23.0% versus 52.4% ± 22.0%; peak, 83.8% ± 16.4% versus 89.7% ± 13.0%; both p<.001). We conclude that BTX-A is effective in the treatment of adductor spasmodic dysphonia in patients who have had recurrent nerve section. However, nerve section may adversely affect perceived voice function and may make botulinum toxin therapy less satisfactory. Because of this finding, and because of the unusual pathological features of the focal dystonias, irreversible means of treating adductor spasmodic dysphonia should be approached with caution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-505
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


  • Botulinum toxin
  • Recurrent laryngeal nerve section
  • Spasmodic dysphonia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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