Determining the Etiology of Mild Vocal Fold Hypomobility

Yolanda D. Heman-Ackah, Mark Batory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The prevalence of mild vocal fold hypomobility is unknown. In a study by Heman-Ackah et al, vocal fold hypomobility in a population of singing teachers was found to be associated more frequently with vocal complaints than was the presence of vocal fold masses. The etiology of mild vocal fold hypomobility has not been previously explored. In the present study, a retrospective chart review was performed of 134 patients who presented to a tertiary laryngology referral center over a 6-month period for evaluation of vocal complaints. Of the 134 patients, 61 (46%) were found to have mild vocal fold hypomobility previously undiagnosed by the referring otolaryngologist. Imaging studies and laboratory tests to evaluate for structural, metabolic, and infectious causes of the decreased mobility had been ordered. Forty-nine patients completed the work-up. Of these, 41 out of 49 (84%) were found to have imaging or laboratory findings that could explain the hypomobility. Thyroid abnormalities were found to be associated with vocal fold hypomobility in 21 out of 49 (43%) of those with a complete evaluation. Other causes of vocal fold hypomobility included idiopathic (8 of 49, 16%), viral neuritis (5 of 49, 10%), central nervous system abnormality (4 of 49, 8%), neural tumor (3 of 49, 6%), joint dysfunction (3 of 49, 6%), iatrogenic nerve injury (2 of 49, 4%), myopathy (2 of 49, 4%), and noniatrogenic traumatic nerve injury (1 of 49, 2%), This study shows that unilateral vocal fold hypomobility often is associated with a physiologic process, and a complete investigation to determine the etiology is warranted in all cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-588
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Laryngeal nerve paralysis
  • Laryngeal nerve paresis
  • Recurrent laryngeal nerve
  • Superior laryngeal nerve
  • Thyroid
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Vocal fold bowing
  • Vocal fold hypomobility
  • Vocal fold paralysis
  • Vocal fold paresis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Speech and Hearing
  • LPN and LVN


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