What are Ventricular Vocal Folds?
Ventricular folds (also known as the false vocal folds) are twin infoldings of delicate membranous tissue that sit superiorly and laterally to the true vocal folds. The voice box (larynx) is where the true vocal folds and ventricular vocal folds are situated. The larynx is also referred to as the voice-generating system. The true vocal folds are twin mucous membrane infoldings that are stretched across the larynx (Boone, McFarlane & Von Berg, 2005). The true vocal folds vibrate when we produce voice. The ventricular folds, however, are not used in voice production. Although they are not meant to vibrate, they may occasionally come to midline (adduct) partially at very low fundamental frequencies or pitch (50Hz or below; Colton & Caspar, 1996).
What is Ventricular Phonation?
Ventricular phonation occurs when the ventricular (false) vocal folds come to midline along with the true vocal folds. This affects the vibratory behaviour of the true vocal folds producing a conditioned voice effect on the sound emitted from the laryngeal vestibule (opening), at the level of the larynx (Colton & Caspar, 1996). This is only observed on visual observation through flexible fiberoptic or stroboscopic laryngoscopy performed by and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Doctor.
Dysphonia is a term given to disorders of the voice. Essentially, the term dysphonia refers to the inability to produce sounds using the vocal organs (Boone, McFarlane & Von Berg, 2005). The most typical symptoms/complaints associated with ventricular phonation may include:
- Lower than normal pitch
- Hoarseness of voice
- Reduced intensity/loudness
- Diplophonia (two separate vocal tones)
- Poor vocal quality
- Vocal fatigue
- Pain or discomfort when using voice
What causes Ventricular Phonation?
Ventricular phonation is a type of functional voice disorder associated with poor muscle functioning at the level of the larynx (voice box). The ventricular folds compensate due to absence or inadequate movement of the true vocal folds. Ventricular phonation may also be a manifestation of a psychogenic dysphonia that may be caused by a traumatic experience or an unknown phenomenon (Colton & Caspar, 2006).
Most often than not, ventricular phonation is reversible requiring Speech Pathology intervention to improve vocal function and quality.
The first course of treatment is functional therapy involving speech therapy to improve vocal quality and overall voice production. Surgery may be an option to assist with voice restoration. In some cases, vocal production may only occur through ventricular phonation, particularly if the true vocal folds are unable to sufficiently vibrate or are too impaired to function properly.
Contact us for results focused speech therapy
This article was written by our speech pathologist Eugene Pillay who is a Speech Pathology Australia member.
If you have questions about Ventricular Phonation or for results focused speech therapy, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist in Sydney.
References & Bibliography:
Boone, D.R., McFarlane, S.C., & Von Berg, S.L. (2005). The voice and voice therapy (7th ed.). USA: Pearson Education Inc. Colton, R.H., & Casper, J.K. (1996). Understanding voice problems: A physiological perspective for diagnosis and treatment (2nd ed.). USA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Duffy, J. (2005). Motor Speech Disorders: Substrates, Differential Diagnosis and Management. (2nd ed.). Missouri: Elsevier Mosby.