Refractory Dysphonia Due to Isolated Cricothyroid Muscle Dystonia

Shannon Kraft, Jana Childes, Allen Hillel, Joshua Schindler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective To demonstrate the utility of electromyography (EMG) in the evaluation and management of treatment-resistant dysphonia. Method We report a case of refractory dysphonia in which EMG was used to identify and treat isolated cricothyroid (CT) dystonia. Results The patient, a healthy 43-year-old woman, presented with 9 months of progressive hoarseness. Her symptoms were present across vocal tasks but were particularly bothersome while dictating. On presentation, her voice was rated grade 3, roughness 3, breathiness 1, asthenia 0, and strain 3 (G3R3B1A0S3). Videostroboscopy was remarkable for hyperfunction. Voice therapy was not beneficial despite appropriate effort. Microdirect laryngoscopy revealed no evidence of structural pathology. The patient was referred for EMG because of her normal examination and failure to improve with therapy. The CT muscle demonstrated an increased latency of 750 ms in all vocal tasks. One month after CT injection with 3 units of botulinum toxin (BTX), her voice was improved. Perceptual voice evaluation was rated G1R1B0A0S1. Voice Handicap Index improved from 87 to 35. Conclusions In the absence of structural pathology, EMG can be a useful adjunct in the diagnosis of dysphonia that persists despite adequate trials of voice therapy. To our knowledge, this is the only report of laryngeal dystonia due to isolated CT dysfunction successfully treated with BTX.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-505
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Cricothyroid muscle
  • Laryngeal dystonia
  • Laryngeal electromyography
  • Spasmodic dysphonia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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