Laryngeal Ultrasound Detects Vocal Fold Immobility in Adults: A Systematic Review

Pediatric Research Collaborative for Critical Ultrasound

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Laryngeal ultrasound (US) is becoming widely accepted for assessing true vocal fold immobility (TVFI), a potential complication of laryngeal and thyroid surgery. The objective of this project is to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of pooled evidence surrounding laryngeal US as a modality for diagnosing TVFI in adults at risk for the condition in comparison to laryngoscopy as a gold standard. Medical subject heading terms were used to search MEDLINE, Embase, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library for relevant citations from January 1, 2000, to June 30, 2020. Studies were included if they involved patients 16 years and older, where laryngeal US was compared to laryngoscopy for TVFI. Studies were excluded if there were insufficient data to compute a sensitivity/specificity table after attempting to contact the authors. Case reports, and case series were also excluded. The initial search returned 1357 citations. Of these, 109 were selected for review utilizing the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Thirty citations describing 6033 patients were included in the final meta-analysis. A bivariate random effects meta-analysis was performed, revealing a pooled sensitivity for laryngeal US of 0.95 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.88–0.98), a specificity of 0.99 (95% CI 0.97–0.99), and a diagnostic odds ratio of 1328.2 (95% CI 294.0–5996.5). The area under the curve of the hierarchical summary receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.99 (95% CI 0.98–1.00). Laryngeal US demonstrates high sensitivity and specificity for detecting VFI in the hands of clinicians directly providing care to patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1873-1888
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Ultrasound in Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • airway
  • aspiration
  • dysphonia
  • point-of-care ultrasound
  • thyroid surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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