Overcoming Laryngospasm by Electrical Stimulation of the Posterior Cricoarytenoid Muscle

Jonathan E. Aviv, Ira Sanders, David Silva, Warren M. Kraus, Bei Lian Wu, Hugh F. Biller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The intent of this study was to demonstrate that the technique of transmucosal electrical stimulation of laryngeal muscles may be of clinical use in airway management. Specifically, its ability to overcome laryngospasm was evaluated. Laryngospasm was induced in eight tracheotomized dogs by hyperventilating each dog, and then applying 0.1 M ammonia to the laryngeal mucosa while administering continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). Laryngospasm was defined by steady apposition of the vocal cords, massive electromyographic activity in the laryngeal adductor muscles, absence of such activity in the posterior cricoarytenoid muscle (PCA), and intraglottic pressure greater than 80 mm Hg. Upon transmucosal application of 10 mAmp current to the PCA bilaterally, the vocal cords abducted for the duration of the stimulus. We theorize that overcoming laryngospasm by electrostimulation involves a reflexive inhibition of the laryngeal adductors. This study provides an objective model for laryngospasm, and demonstrates that electrical manipulation of the vocal cords may have clinical relevance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-118
Number of pages9
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1989


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