Objective To determine the diagnostic yield of computed tomography (CT) in establishing an etiology in patients with idiopathic unilateral vocal fold paresis (IUVFP). To determine the proportion of CT scans yielding incidental findings requiring further patient management. Study Design Case series with chart review. Setting Tertiary laryngology practice. Subjects Laryngology clinic patients under the care of the 2 senior authors. Methods All clinic patients were identified who had a diagnosis of IUVFP and underwent CT of the skull base to the upper mediastinum from 2004 to 2014. Demographic, historical, examination, and investigation data were extracted. CT reports and endoscopic recordings were reviewed. Patients were excluded if there were insufficient clinical findings recorded or if there was a known neurologic disorder, complete vocal fold immobility, or bilateral involvement. Results A total of 174 patients with IUVFP who had also undergone contrast-enhanced CT were identified. Of the 174 patients, 5 had a cause for their paresis identified on CT. This equated to a diagnostic yield of 2.9% (95% confidence interval, 0.94% to 6.6%). Of the 174 patients, 48 had other incidental lesions identified that required further follow-up, investigation, or treatment. This equated to an incidental yield of 27.6% (95% confidence interval, 21.1% to 34.9%). Conclusion This is the second and largest study to evaluate the diagnostic yield of CT in the evaluation of IUVFP. It demonstrates a low diagnostic yield and a high incidental yield. These findings suggest that the routine use of CT in the evaluation of idiopathic vocal fold paresis should be given careful consideration and that a tailored approach to investigation with good otolaryngologic follow-up is warranted.
- computed tomography
- diagnostic yield
- idiopathic unilateral vocal fold paresis
- incidental yield