Recovery of Vocal Cord Motion Among Pediatric Patients

Courtney Ann Prestwood, Ashley F. Brown, Romaine F. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: Patients with vocal cord paralysis can experience feeding, respiratory, and vocal problems leading to disability and decreased quality of life. Current evidence suggests waiting a period of 12 months for spontaneous recovery before permanent interventions. This study aims to determine the time to recover spontaneously and vocal cord movement in a pediatric population and create a model for evidence-based patient counseling. Study Design: Retrospective longitudinal cohort study. Methods: The report is a single institution longitudinal study on vocal cord paralysis recovery. Patients were categorized based on spontaneous recovery with vocal cord movement or no recovery. Recovery rates were determined using the Kaplan-Meier method. Results: Of 158 cases of vocal cord paralysis over a 4-year period, 36 had spontaneous recovery with symptom improvement and motion return. The average recovery was 8.8 months for those who recovered, and 78% recovered within 9 months. Two groups emerged from the data: an early recovery group with spontaneous recovery before 12 months and a late recovery group after 12 months. Children with dysphonia and paralysis due to cardiac surgery were less likely to recover, and children with aspiration were more likely to recover. Children with gastrointestinal comorbidities were less likely to recover; however, those who did recover were more likely to have recovered after 12 months. Based on our model, there is about a 3% chance of recovery between 9 and 12 months. Conclusions: Patients should be counseled about earlier interventions. Waiting the conventional 12 months for only a 3% chance of spontaneous recovery without intervention or laryngeal EMG may not be the preferred option for some patients and their families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-594
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • dysphonia
  • pediatrics
  • reinnervation
  • unilateral vocal cord paralysis
  • voice recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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