Injection laryngoplasty is a common procedure for patients with vocal fold dysfunction, but the literature on its benefits has been mainly focused on those related to structural lesions or laryngeal nerve involvement. Stroke patients may be at increased risk of aspiration due to insufficient vocal fold motion. However, how injection laryngoplasty can be of benefit in stroke patients has not been reported yet.
Six chronic stroke patients with long-standing swallowing difficulties and who showed severe aspiration despite long-term swallowing rehabilitation.
Laryngoscope evaluation revealed insufficient glottic closure as the cause of aspiration.
Injection laryngoplasty was done per-orally under local anaesthesia with calcium hydroxylapatite (Radiesse Voice, 1-1.5 mL) in an office setting. Respiratory pressures and peak cough flows were assessed at baseline and at 2 weeks follow-up.
At 2 weeks, the mean peak cough flow (Δ = +95.09 L/min) increased significantly after the procedure. The maximal expiratory (Δ = +18.40 cm H2O) and inspiratory (Δ = +20.20 cm H2O) pressures also improved, indicating that injection laryngoplasty was effective in augmenting respiratory and cough parameters. All cases showed improvement in the Functional Oral Intake Scale (Δ = +4). Feeding tubes were successfully removed.
Injection laryngoplasty proved to be both successful and safe in improving glottic closure with immediate results in those who had failed to show a positive response after long-term swallowing rehabilitation. The positive and dramatic clinical outcomes were observed through changes in the coughing force. Our case series support the use of injection larygnoplasty as a powerful adjunctive treatment method to prevent aspiration pneumonia in post-stroke patients with vocal fold insufficiency. Pre- and post-injection peak cough flow changes may reflect improvement in glottic closure and indicate the safety of swallowing with reduced risk of aspiration.