Vocal fold motion impairment in multiple system atrophy

Ian J. Lalich, Dale C. Ekbom, Sidney J. Starkman, Diana M. Orbelo, Timothy I. Morgenthaler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objectives/Hypothesis Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a degenerative neurologic disorder that can affect vocal fold mobility. Our aim was to further elucidate the impact of vocal fold motion impairment (VFMI) in MSA. Study Design Retrospective case series. Methods We undertook a retrospective review of all MSA patients reporting voice or respiratory symptoms from 1975 to 2010 at Mayo Clinic Rochester who also received otolaryngologic examination. Results Thirty-eight MSA patients demonstrated VFMI. Median duration of vocal or respiratory symptoms prior to diagnosis of MSA was 12.0 months (range, 1-60 months). Stridor was present in 25 (68%) of patients. There was bilateral VFMI in 32 (82.4%) of the patients and isolated VFMI of the left true vocal fold (TVF) in six (17.6%) of the patients. No patients had isolated right VFMI. There was isolated unilateral or bilateral paresis in 21 (55.3%) of the patients and unilateral or bilateral complete paralysis in 15 (39.5%) of the patients. One patient presented with left TVF paralysis and right TVF paresis, whereas one other patient had findings of right TVF paralysis and left TVF paresis comprising the remaining 5.2% of patients with VFMI. The median survival after diagnosis of VFMI was 51.6 months. Unilateral or bilateral TVF paralysis was statistically associated with a decreased overall survival (P =.0384). The presence of stridor was not associated with adverse prognosis. Conclusions The increasing severity of VFMI negatively impacts overall survival in patients with MSA. Therefore, otolaryngologic examination is warranted at the time of MSA diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)730-735
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Multiple system atrophy
  • hoarseness
  • stridor
  • sudden death
  • vocal fold motion impairment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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