• Effect of tonsillectomy on the adult voice.

      Heffernan, Colleen B; Rafferty, Mark A; Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Adelaide Road, Dublin, Ireland., heffernan_colleen@hotmail.com (2012-02-01)
      OBJECTIVES AND HYPOTHESIS: Anecdotal evidence suggests that tonsillectomy has no deleterious consequences on a person's voice under normal vocal demand. However, whether the enlarged dimensions of the oropharynx after tonsillectomy impair the quality of a professional voice user remains unclear. Therefore, we designed a study to determine whether adult tonsillectomy altered the resonance characteristics of the vocal tract in any way and whether these changes were transient or permanent. STUDY DESIGN: This is a prospective observational study with full institutional ethical approval. METHODS: All adult patients presenting for tonsillectomy for recurrent tonsillitis in our institution were recruited. Their voice was recorded preoperatively, postoperatively, and at 4 weeks postoperatively. The values of the first four formants were calculated in all recordings. The oropharyngeal dimensions were measured preoperatively and postoperatively. Tonsillar weights and volumes were also measured. RESULTS: The first formant was noted to rise postoperatively. The average value of F2 and F3 did not alter postoperatively or at 4 weeks. However, it was noted that the fourth formant was not universally present preoperatively but was present in all patients postoperatively and at 4 weeks. CONCLUSIONS: Altering the dimensions of the oropharynx after tonsillectomy causes the first formant to rise but has no effect on the third and fourth formants. However, the fourth formant appears in patients who previously did not demonstrate it. The fourth formant was present in a greater proportion of male patients preoperatively than female patients, but it was universally present postoperatively and at 4 weeks in both sexes. This suggests that increasing the horizontal dimensions of the oropharynx has a nontransient effect on the higher order formants of the voice.