Subglottic stenosis (SGS) is an abnormal narrowing of the airway at the level of the cricoid cartilage, above the first tracheal ring and immediately beneath the vocal folds. Individuals with SGS experience a reduction in their ability to breathe as well as adverse effects on voice function. SGS can result from a variety of causes with the type of treatment depending on stenosis severity. Surgical techniques such as laryngotracheal and cricotracheal reconstruction are beneficial for airway maintenance; however, these procedures have resulted in negative effects on voice production. On the other hand, there are patients with SGS who do not require surgery and still experience voice problems. The purpose of this study was to quantify the effects of SGS on vocal fold vibration using an excised larynx benchtop mechanical model. Using a within-subjects repeated measures design, nine porcine larynges underwent experimental conditions including 0% (i.e., normal airway), 50% and 75% stenosed. The primary outcome measure was phonation threshold flow (PTF), which is the rate of flow observed at the onset of phonation. For all larynges, the normal and stenosed conditions were sampled three times each and averaged. Analysis of the results revealed no statistically significant differences in PTF; however, descriptive data showed decreases in PTF and increased variability in PTF values as percent stenosis increased. These findings lay important groundwork for future research in SGS, specifically those that employ ex vivo methodologies. PTF has emerged as a promising means of quantifying voice function in addition to the traditional onset pressure measures. Future studies should examine a broader range of stenosis conditions with a larger sample size to promote generalization to clinical populations including individuals with SGS.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





subglottic stenosis, voice disorders, larynx, bench model, phonation threshold flow