Previous studies have found vocal fold hydration to be crucial for healthy function of the vocal mechanism. Surface tissue hydration facilitates efficient vocal fold oscillation. The composition of vocal fold surface fluid includes protective water and mucus layers, similar to the fluid that covers the mucosa and epithelia of the upper airway. Laryngeal dehydration has been linked to several factors such as mouth breathing, obstructive sleep apnea, dry air exposure, upper airway hypersensitivity, and certain diseases or behavioral voice use factors. Laryngeal dehydration affects phonation threshold pressure (PTP) and phonation threshold flow (PTF), defined as the pressure and flow observed at the onset of phonation, respectively. The application of topical nebulized isotonic saline (0.9% Na+Cl-) has been shown in previous work to decrease PTP. However, there are no studies examining the effects of aerosolized saline, administered supraglottally, on dehydrated excised porcine larynges. Examining the effects of aerosolized saline in an excised model is essential to determine any independent effects of this treatment in the absence of other physiologic mechanisms such as mucus secretion. This study sought to investigate the effects of aerosolized saline on dehydrated animal vocal folds to determine if the administration of supraglottic aerosolized saline, via a nebulizer, could reverse the adverse effects of laryngeal dehydration. The study included a prospective, mixed experimental design with two groups, one desiccation/aerosolization (A/B) group and a control (A) group, each comprised of five bench-mounted porcine larynges. Larynges in both groups received desiccated air (<1% relative humidity) supraglottally via custom tubing for 1-min doses until the vocal folds ceased audible phonation. Following the desiccation challenge, the A/B group received 2-min doses of aerosolized isotonic saline until phonation began again. The PTP and PTF were measured during phonation trials following each dose of the desiccation or aerosolization treatment. Significant changes in PTP and PTF were observed following both the dehydration and aerosolization treatment. The PTP increased significantly following the dehydration challenge and returned near baseline following the aerosolization treatment. The results of this investigation supported the hypothesis that the administration of aerosolized saline may reverse the adverse effects of vocal fold dehydration. Moreover, in a more physiologically realistic excised model, applying the mechanics of respiration, this study advanced the development of innovative theories related to the reversal of the adverse effects of dehydration, which may prevent the development of voice disorders.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





aerosolized saline, vocal fold hydration, larynx, bench model, phonation threshold pressure, phonation threshold flow