Neurogenic Voice Disorders : Superior Laryngeal Nerve Paralysis

Superior Laryngeal Nerve Paralysis

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Paralysis of the superior laryngeal nerves occurs much less frequently than does paralysis of the recurrent laryngeal nerves, possibly due to their much shorter course through the body. Thyroid disease and surgeries may create temporary or permanent paralysis of the superior laryngeal nerve. Unlike recurrent laryngeal nerve paralysis, the diagnosis of superior laryngeal nerve paralysis may not be readily observable and is often difficult to ascertain. Bilateral paralysis of the cricothyroid muscles is rare and often must be confirmed through the use of EMG studies. If a superior laryngeal nerve paralysis should occur, the vocal folds will lack their normal tone and will not lengthen sufficiently during attempts at increased pitch production. Therefore, people with a superior laryngeal nerve paralysis have significant difficulty increasing loudness and getting high in pitch. Most patients with unilateral paralysis of the superior laryngeal nerve complain of vocal fatigue and the inability to sing. While there is no medical treatment for superior laryngeal nerve paralysis, voice therapy may be utilized for educational and voice conservation purposes.

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