Diagnosis of vocal cord dysfunction in asthma with high resolution dynamic volume computerized tomography of the larynx

Peter Holmes, Kenneth K P Lau, Marcus Crossett, Cathy Low, Douglas Buchanan, Garun Stuart Hamilton, Philip G Bardin

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46 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) often masquerades as asthma and reports have suggested that up to 30 of patients with asthma may have coexistent VCD. Diagnosis of VCD is difficult, in part because it involves laryngoscopy which has practical constraints, and there is need for rapid non-invasive diagnosis. High speed 320-slice volume CT demonstrates laryngeal function during inspiration and expiration and may be useful in suspected VCD. METHODS: Endoscopy and high resolution 320-slice dynamic volume CT were used to examine and compare laryngeal anatomy and movement in a case of subglottic stenosis and in a patient with confirmed VCD. Nine asthmatics with ongoing symptoms and suspected VCD also underwent 320-slice dynamic volume CT. Tracheal and laryngeal anatomy and movement were evaluated and luminal areas were measured. Reductions in vocal cord luminal area >40 , lasting for >70 duration of inspiration/expiration, were judged to be consistent with VCD. RESULTS: Studies of subglottic tracheal stenosis validated anatomical similarities between endoscopy and CT images. Endoscopy and 320-slice volume CT also provided comparable dynamic images in a patient with confirmed VCD. A further nine patients with a history of severe asthma and suspected VCD were studied using CT. Four patients had evidence of VCD and the median reduction of luminal area during expiration was 78.2 (range 48.2-92.5 ) compared with 10.4 (range 4.7-30 ) in the five patients without VCD. Patients with VCD had no distinguishing clinical characteristics. CONCLUSIONS: Dynamic volume CT provided explicit images of the larynx, distinguished function of the vocal cords during the respiratory cycle and could identify putative VCD. The technique will potentially provide a simple, non-invasive investigation to identify laryngeal dysfunction, permitting improved management of asthma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1106 - 1113
Number of pages8
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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