Development and Application of Automated Vocal Fold Tracking Software in a Rat Surgical Model

William Pennington-FitzGerald, Abhinav Joshi, Emily Honzel, Ignacio Hernandez-Morato, Michael J. Pitman, Yalda Moayedi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The rat is a widely used model for studying vocal fold (VF) function after recurrent laryngeal nerve injury, but common techniques for evaluating rat VF motion remain subjective and imprecise. To address this, we developed a software package, called RatVocalTracker1.0 (RVT1.0), to quantify VF motion and tested it on rats with iatrogenic unilateral vocal fold paralysis (VFP). Methods: A deep neural network was trained to identify the positions of the VFs and arytenoid cartilages (ACs) in transoral laryngoscope videos of the rat glottis. Software was developed to estimate glottic midline, VF displacement, VF velocity, and AC angle. The software was applied to laryngoscope videos of adult rats before and after right recurrent and superior laryngeal nerve transection (N = 15; 6M, 9F). All software calculated metrics were compared before and after injury and validated against manually calculated metrics. Results: RVT1.0 accurately tracked and quantified VF displacement, VF velocity, and AC angle. Significant differences were found before and after surgery for all RVT1.0 calculated metrics. There was strong agreement between programmatically and manually calculated measures. Automated analysis was also more efficient than nearly all manual methods. Conclusion: This approach provides fast, accurate assessment of VF motion in rats with minimal labor and allows for quantitative comparison of lateral differences in movement. Through this novel analysis method, we can differentiate healthy movement from unilateral VFP. RVT1.0 is open-source and will be a valuable tool for researchers using the rat model for laryngology research. Level of Evidence: NA Laryngoscope, 134:340–346, 2024.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-346
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • artificial intelligence
  • automated tracking
  • rat
  • recurrent laryngeal nerve injury
  • vocal fold paralysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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