Prevalence of voice & swallowing complaints in Pre-operative thyroidectomy patients: a prospective cohort study
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BACKGROUND: Compressive symptoms are common in patients with thyroid disease and are an accepted indication for thyroidectomy. The objective of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and severity of voice and swallowing complaints in pre-operative thyroidectomy patients and to compare these with thyroid volume, thyroid pathology and laryngopharyngeal reflux. METHODS: A consecutive case series design was performed. All patients undergoing a thyroidectomy (partial or total) at a tertiary care centre during a 2 year period were invited to participate. Fifty nine (10 male, 49 female) aged 19-73 were enrolled (59.3% total thyroidectomy, 40.7% partial thyroidectomy). Voice and swallowing complaints were subjectively evaluated using the Voice Handicap Index (VHI) and the Modified Swallowing Impairment Score (MSIS), respectively. All patients completed the Reflux Symptom Index (RSI) and underwent videostroboscopy. Vocal function was objectively evaluated using perceptual ratings (GRBAS) and acoustic voice analysis (jitter, shimmer, maximum phonation time, maximum fundamental frequency range). The relationship between voice and swallowing symptoms was compared with thyroid volume and surgical pathology. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: The average VHI score was 8.39, representing normal voice scores. Of the objective voice measures, only jitter and a subset of GRBAS measures were slightly elevated. Swallowing complaints were reported at least "some of the time" by 25 patients (41.7%), and "often or always" by 16 patients (26.7%). Of the patients with voice and swallowing complaints, 68.4% and 56%, respectively, had elevated RSI scores consistent with laryngopharyngeal reflux. No correlation was found with thyroid volume or thyroid pathology. CONCLUSIONS: Swallowing complaints appear to be common in pre-operative thyroidectomy patients. A large percentage, however, have associated laryngopharyngeal reflux which may in part account for these symptoms. Patients presenting with compressive thyroid symptoms should be evaluated for laryngopharyngeal reflux, and treated where appropriate.
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