Purpose: The study of air pressure in the vocal tract is essential to understanding vocal function. Changes in vocal tract shape during different phonatory gestures are hypothesized to produce nonuniform air pressure across lower vocal tract locations. Current methods of air pressure measurement, however, are limited to a single location in the anterior oral cavity. The purposes of this study were (a) to assess the feasibility of a novel method of simultaneously measuring phonatory air pressure at multiple locations across the lower vocal tract using high-resolution pharyngeal manometry (HRM) and (b) to compare pressure across locations and among phonatory tasks. Method: Two subjects underwent HRM while performing phonatory tasks. A catheter was passed transnasally and air pressure was measured simultaneously at five locations between the velopharyngeal port and the upper esophageal sphincter. Descriptive statistics were calculated for each location by task, and for each task averaged across locations. Results: HRM was well tolerated, and air pressures from multiple locations in the lower vocal tract were able to be obtained simultaneously. During vocal tract semi-occlusion tasks, air pressures differed by location. Pressures averaged across locations demonstrated a pattern of increasing pressure with increasing semi-occlusion. Conclusions: HRM is feasible for measuring air pressure simultaneously at multiple locations in the lower vocal tract during phonation with high spatial and temporal resolution, providing rich data to augment understanding of vocal function. The high spatial and temporal resolution yielded by this new method, paired with preliminary evidence that pressures change by location as a function of phonatory task, may be useful in future assays exploring differences in lower vocal tract air pressures between normal and disordered populations.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Jesse D. Hoffmeister and Christopher L. Ulmschneider received support from National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) Grant T32 DC009401. Corinne A. Jones received support from NIH Grant F31 DC015709. Michelle R. Ciucci’s research is supported by NIH, NIDCD, Grant R01 DC014358.
© 2021 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.