||Broniatowski M, Moore NZ, Grundfest-Broniatowski S, Tucker HM, Lancaster E, Krival K, Hadley AJ, Tyler DJ
Objectives: We undertook to determine whether paced vocal fold adduction can check aspiration in patients with various neurologic conditions. Methods: Five patients with fluoroscopically documented aspiration and repeated pneumonias were enrolled. Two previously reported patients with hemispheric stroke were compared to 3 additional subjects with brain stem-basal ganglia and cerebellar stroke, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. A modified Vocare stimulator was implanted subcutaneously and linked to the ipsilateral recurrent laryngeal nerve via perineural electrodes. Vocal fold adduction and glottic closure were effected with pulse trains (42 Hz; 1.2 mA; 188 to 560 Âµs) and recorded with Enhanced Image J. Fluoroscopy results with and without stimulation were assessed by 2 independent blinded reviewers. Pneumonia rates were compared before, during, and after the 6- to 12-month enrollment periods. Results: There was statistically significant vocal fold adduction (p < 0.05) for all patients, further verified with bolus arrest (p < 0.05 for thin liquids, thick liquids, and puree depending on the speech-language pathologist). Pneumonia was prevented in 4 of the 5 patients during enrollment. In the fifth patient, who had brain stem-basal ganglia and cerebellar stroke, we were unable to completely seal the glottis and open the cricopharyngeus enough to handle his secretions. Conclusions: Vocal fold pacing for aspiration pneumonia from a variety of neurologic insults appears to be appropriate as long as the glottis can be sealed. It is not sufficient when the cricopharyngeus must be independently opened.