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Laryngeal dysfunction in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: a review and case report

Christopher R Watts1* and Martine Vanryckeghem2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL, USA

2 Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA

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BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders 2001, 1:1  doi:10.1186/1472-6815-1-1

Published: 13 November 2001



Laryngeal dysfunction can be a salient feature in the clinical symptomatology of speakers diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In addition to dysphonia, swallowing function is also disrupted. This paper reviews what is known about laryngeal dysfunction resulting from ALS.


Presented is a case report of a female, diagnosed with ALS, whose initial symptoms were caused by laryngeal bulbar involvement that was characterized by dysphonia and dysphagia.


In bulbar forms of ALS, voice and/or swallowing difficulties are often the initial signs of disease. Careful examination of the muscles innervated by bulbar nerves, and tracking the rate of progressive deficit in the affected muscles, will help to solidify an accurate diagnosis. With therapy, the ability to swallow safely may still be maintained even when voice and articulation abilities are such that oral communication is inefficient.