Long-term dysphonia may persist after thyroid surgery even in the absence of overt nerve injury. Therefore, we evaluated long-term dysphonia after thyroidectomy using a validated survey.
Patients undergoing thyroidectomy at a single institution from 1990 to 2018 were surveyed via telephone to complete the Voice Handicap Index-10 Survey. Individuals with documented nerve injury were excluded.
In total, 308 patients completed the survey (mean age 51 ± 14 years, 78% female). Median time since surgery was 10.7 (interquartile range 2.3-17.5) years. The mean Voice Handicap Index-10 Survey score was 2.6 ± 5.2. Of the 113 (37%) patients who reported subjective dysphonia, the mean Voice Handicap Index-10 Survey score was 7.1 ± 6.5. Twenty-two (7.1%) patients had a Voice Handicap Index-10 Survey score above the empiric normative cutoff of 11, with a mean score of 17.6 ± 6.8. The most frequent complaints included “The clarity of my voice is unpredictable” (N = 71, 23%), “People have difficulty understanding me in a noisy room” (N = 70, 23%), and “I feel as though I have to strain to produce voice” (N = 65, 21%).
Long-term follow-up of patients after thyroidectomy suggests that more than 30% without nerve injury report dysphonia. Research to further assess the etiology and impact of these changes on quality of life is needed.

Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.