Outcomes of Paradoxical Vocal Cord Motion Diagnosed in Childhood

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology




paradoxical vocal cord dysfunction; paradoxical vocal cord motion; pediatrics; vocal cord dysfunction


© The Author(s) 2020. Objectives: To explore long-term patient reported outcome (PRO) measures of pediatric paradoxical vocal cord motion (PVCM) including ease of diagnosis, management, symptom duration and effect on quality of life. Methods: All children >8 years of age diagnosed with PVCM at a tertiary pediatric hospital between 2006 and 2017 were invited to complete a survey addressing study objectives. Results: 21/47 eligible participants could be contacted and 18/21 (86%) participated. 78% were female with a mean age at diagnosis of 11.6 and 15.0 years at survey completion. Common PVCM symptoms reported were dyspnea (89%), globus sensation (56%), and stridor (50%). The median time to diagnosis was 3 months (IQR 2-5 months). Nearly all reported being misdiagnosed with another condition, usually asthma, until being correctly diagnosed usually by an otolaryngologist. Participants reported undergoing 3.7 diagnostic studies (range 0-8); pulmonary function testing was most common. Of numerous treatments acknowledged, breathing exercises were common (89%) but only reported helpful by 56%. Use of biofeedback was recalled in 1/3 of subjects but reported helpful in only 14% of them. Anti-reflux, allergy, anticholinergics, inhalers and steroids were each used in >50%, but rarely reported effective. PVCM was reportedly a significant stressor when initially diagnosed but despite 2/3 of participants still reporting ongoing PVCM symptoms, the perceived stress significantly decreased over time (Z = 3.26, P = 0.001). Conclusions: This first PVCM PRO study endorses that diagnosis is often delayed and prescribed treatments often viewed as ineffective. While biofeedback and breathing exercises may be critical for short-term control of PVCM episodes, lifestyle changes and stress reduction are likely necessary for long-term management. Increased awareness and improvements in management are needed for this condition.

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