Viscosities of implantable biomaterials in vocal fold augmentation surgery

Roger W. Chan, Ingo R. Titze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


Vocal fold vibration depends critically on the viscoelasticity of vocal fold tissues. For instance, phonation threshold pressure, a measure of the 'ease' of phonation, has been shown to be directly related to the viscosity of the vibrating mucosa. Various implantable biomaterials have been used in vocal fold augmentation surgery, with implantation sites sometimes close to or inside the mucosa. Yet their viscosities or other mechanical properties are seldom known. This study attempts to provide data on viscosities of commonly used phonosurgical biomaterials. Using a parallel-plate rotational rheometer, oscillatory shear experiments were performed on implantable polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon or Polytef; Mentor Inc., Hingham, MA), collagen (Zyderm; Collagen Corp., Palo Alto, CA), glutaraldehyde cross- linked (GAX) collagen (Phonagel or Zyplast; Collagen Corp.), absorbable gelatin (Gelfoam; Upjohn Co., Kalamazoo, MI), and human abdominal subcutaneous fat. Samples of human vocal fold mucosal tissues were also tested. Under sinusoidal oscillatory shear at 10 Hz and at 37°C, the dynamic viscosity was 116 Pascal-seconds (Pa-s) for polytetrafluoroethylene, 21 Pa-s for gelatin, 8-13 Pa-s for the two types of collagen, 3 Pa-s for fat, and 1 to 3 Pa-s for vocal fold mucosa. Results extrapolated to 100 Hz also show similar differences among the biomaterials, but all values are an order of magnitude lower because of the typical inverse frequency relation (shear thinning effect) for polymeric and biologic materials. The data suggest that the use of fat for vocal fold augmentation may be more conducive to the 'ease' of phonation because of its relatively low viscosity, which is closest to physiologic levels. This implication is probably the most relevant in predicting initial outcome of the postoperative voice before there is any significant assimilation (e.g., resorption and fibrosis) of the implanted biomaterial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-731
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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