Association between Upper Respiratory Infection and Idiopathic Unilateral Vocal Fold Paralysis

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Abstract

Introduction: Unilateral vocal fold paralysis (UVFP) without an identifiable cause is termed idiopathic unilateral vocal fold paralysis (IUVFP). Some authors have postulated that select cases of IUVFP have a viral etiology, but the causality has not been established. We set out to review institutional cases of IUVFP and determine if there is a correlation between upper respiratory infection symptoms and presentation of IUVFP. Methods: Cases of IUVFP were reviewed over a 10-year period (2002-2012). The history was investigated to review presenting symptoms. We specifically reviewed for symptoms of upper respiratory infection at the onset of UVFP and tallied the frequency. Symptoms included sore throat, laryngitis, cough, influenza, bronchitis, pneumonia, otalgia, and sinusitis. The seasonal onset (if possible) was determined based on the history provided from the initial consultation. Study Design: Case series. Results: Overall, 107 patients presented with IUVFP; 35.5% of patients reported symptoms of upper respiratory infection at the onset of UVFP. Among these individuals, pharyngitis/laryngitis was the most common presenting symptom; 34.2% reported cough. In total, 40.0% of patients with IUVFP reported an onset of symptoms between December and February. Conclusions: This study suggests that symptoms of upper respiratory infection frequently occur with the presentation of IUVFP. The onset of symptoms tended to occur between December and February. The mechanism of viral-mediated UVFP has not been established. Future studies to explore this pathophysiology are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)667-671
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Volume127
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Keywords

  • laryngology
  • otolaryngology
  • vagus nerve injury
  • vocal cord movement
  • vocal fold paralysis
  • voice disorders

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