How can we make better decisions about dystonic voice management?

Sarah K. Rapoport, Diana N. Kirke

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose of reviewThe optimal diagnosis and management of dystonic voice disorders are rooted in the nuanced understanding of their phenomenology. Distinguishing between subtypes of vocal dystonia is challenging, not only because the audible and physical presentations of these dystonia's can seem similar, but also because there is a lack of scientific consensus regarding the diagnostic criteria for these conditions. To help improve the clinician's acumen we focus on outlining the classification of the top three neurological voice disorders, notably: spasmodic dysphonia, (2) spasmodic dysphonia with tremor, and essential tremor of the voice. We also provide an algorithmic approach based on current evidence-based literature to guide practitioners through the clinical diagnosis and management of each possible etiology.Recent findingsMuch remains unknown about the subtypes of vocal dystonia, and this gap in our knowledge likely limits our ability to advance clinical management. Still, continued experience evaluating and treating these patients yields refined clinical evaluations and decision making.SummaryImprovements in our clinical decision-making can be made by acknowledging that our limited understanding of vocal dystonia may hinder what therapeutic interventions we can offer, yet our ability to accurately diagnose the dystonia is central to providing optimal patient management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-450
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • abductor spasmodic dysphonia
  • adductor spasmodic dysphonia
  • dystonia
  • essential vocal tremor
  • spasmodic dysphonia
  • vocal tremor


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