Intratracheal pressure related to objective voice quality, self-reported voice handicap and voice intensity of tracheoesophageal speakers: a pilot study.

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Tracheoesophageal (TE) speech is the golden standard if it comes to voice rehabilitation after a total laryngectomy (TL). This Master thesis provides a first investigation of intratracheal pressure that TE speakers need in order to speak, using a digital manometer. Ten TE speakers (Mage = 68.2 years) were asked to read aloud voiced sentences and produce sustained vowels, both at comfortable as at extreme pitch and intensity levels. Spontaneous speech was elicited as well. A digital manometer registered intratracheal pressure in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). In addition, the Acoustic Voice Quality Index (AVQI) and Voice Handicap Index (VHI-10) were calculated in order to make connections between intratracheal pressure, objective voice quality and self-reported voice handicap. Lastly, voice intensity was analysed. Results pointed out that a digital manometer is a reliable tool for measuring intratracheal pressures. Furthermore, intratracheal pressures were higher for reading aloud sentences (M = 31.38 mmHg) and producing a comfortable sustained vowel (M = 31.07 mmHg) than for speaking spontaneously (M = 24.92 mmHg). Compared to the comfortable sustained vowel, extreme pitch levels did not alter the intratracheal pressure level, whereas extreme intensity levels did. No statistically significant correlations were found between intratracheal pressure, AVQI and VHI-10. A trend can be observed in VHI-10 scores: TE speakers that had to produce more intratracheal pressure for an average or less extreme intensity level had generally higher VHI-10 scores. This reveals that a possible connection between intratracheal pressure and self-reported voice handicap could exist. Further research is needed in order to gain more insight in these topics.
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