Research Article| Volume 34, ISSUE 3, P465-470, May 2020

The Clinical Course of Idiopathic Bilateral Vocal Fold Motion Impairment in Adults: Case Series and Review of the Literature

Published:December 04, 2018DOI:



      Steps for assessment and successful management of bilateral vocal fold motion impairment (VFMI) are (1) recognition of its presence, (2) identifying the etiology and factors restricting vocal fold motion, (3) evaluation of airway patency, and (4) establishing a management plan. No large series documenting the course and outcome of adult idiopathic bilateral VFMI has been published within the past 15 years.


      Retrospective chart review of adult patients with idiopathic bilateral VFMI at a tertiary academic center. A diagnosis was established if history, physical examination with laryngoscopy, and initial imaging excluded a cause. Records were reviewed for demographics, clinical characteristics, surgical intervention details, and length of follow-up.


      Nine adult patients with idiopathic bilateral VFMI were identified. There were five males and four females with a mean age of 59.6 years. The mean follow-up period was 54.4 months (range, 6–111 months). Upon presentation to our laryngology service, three patients were advised observation, three patients were advised to undergo urgent tracheostomy, and three patients were advised to undergo elective surgery for airway management. By the end of the follow-up period, only four patients (4/9, 44.4%) were tracheostomy dependent, one of them was lost to follow-up after tracheostomy tub downsizing for decannulation.


      To our best knowledge, this is the largest series so far of adult patients with idiopathic bilateral VFMI. Conservative treatment can be considered as an alternative to surgery in select cases.

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