Clinical Characteristics and Effects of Vocal Demands in Occupational Voice Users With and Without Primary Muscle Tension Dysphonia

Sarah McDowell, Robert Morrison, Ted Mau, Adrianna C. Shembel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The objectives of this study were to (1) compare laryngeal configuration patterns in occupational voice users with and without primary muscle tension dysphonia (pMTD), (2) characterize laryngeal configurations in relation to other clinical metrics (acoustic, perceptual), and (3) determine the effects of vocal demands (load) on these clinical parameters. Methods: Thirty subjects (15 pMTD, 15 control) were recruited for the study. Laryngoscopic examinations and voice samples for sustained /i/ were obtained before and after a half hour vocal load task. Subjects rated their vocal effort and discomfort before and after the vocal load. Laryngeal configurations were analyzed subjectively with dichotomous and categorical rating scales and hyper function severity quantified (endolaryngeal area outlets). Overall dysphonia severity and vocal instability of each voice sample was rated on 100mm visual analog scales and cepstral peak prominence (CPP) extracted from each voice sample. Results: Laryngeal configurations between groups or vocal load condition were not distinguishable with any of the dichotomous, categorical, or quantitative laryngeal metrics. Vocal effort and discomfort ratings were significantly higher in the pMTD group compared to the control group. Vocal load also had significant effects across groups on vocal effort and vocal tract discomfort ratings. Although CPP values fell within the normal range in both groups, CPP was significantly lower in the pMTD group at both pre-load and post-load time points. Auditory-perceptual ratings were also significantly worse in the pMTD group. Vocal load did not have a significant effect on acoustic or auditory-perceptual measures. Conclusion: Similar laryngeal configurations between groups at both pre- and post-vocal load suggests classic patterns of laryngeal “hyperadduction” may occur variably in occupational voice users and may not be indicative of pMTD pathophysiology. Greater vocal effort, discomfort, instability, and perturbation within the vocal system may better define pMTD than laryngeal configuration in occupational voice users with pMTD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Voice
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • Vocal discomfort
  • Vocal effort
  • Vocal hyperfunction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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