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Research at the Center

Over the past fifteen years, the Center staff has designed, developed and perfected more than 16 surgical procedures now currently in use to enhance the treatment of benign and malignant laryngeal and pharyngeal disease. Center staff has a long history of conducting research that is funded by governmental (National Institutes of Health) and private foundation sources to develop improved methods for preventing, diagnosing, and treating voice disorders, reflected by the list of innovations below. Much of this work is carried out in collaboration with leading scientists at MIT and the MGH Wellman Laboratory.

Principals of the Voice Restoration Research Program met to announce this major research effort at Sardi’s Restaurant in New York. Julie Andrews is shown leading a press conference explaining this initiative. Seated with her are the project’s primary investigators (from left to right) Robert E. Hillman, Ph.D. (MGH), R. Rox Anderson, M.D. (MGH), Steven M.. Zeitels, M.D. (Program Director, MGH), Robert S. Langer, Ph.D. (MIT), and James B. Kobler, Ph.D, (MGH).

Examples of ongoing collaborative projects include:

  • voice restoration secondary to vocal cord scarring (see photo)
  • vocal rejuvenation
  • novel procedures to treat vocal-cord paralysis
  • novel laser treatment paradigms for benign and malignant vocal cord disease
  • development of a neural prosthetics to improve disordered voice and speech production, and
  • development of new technologies for quantitative/objective assessment of vocal function that can assist both the diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders

Innovations Developed by Center Staff

  • New pulsed (pulsed-dye and KTP) and continuous wave (thulium and KTP) lasers for treatment of papillomatosis and keratotic (white) premalignant/dysplasia laryngeal lesions
  • Endoscopic minimally-invasive cancer surgery designed specifically to restore and preserve voice
  • Subepithelial resection of nodules and polyps in professional speakers and singers including, educators, attorneys, clergy, sales personnel, politicians, and all performing vocal artists
  • New infusion techniques to enhance microsurgery of vocal cord lesions
  • Newly patented laryngoscopes for better exposure of the larynx during surgery, especially for voice procedures
  • Laryngeal framework surgical procedures to repair vocal cord movement disorders (paralysis/paresis/fixation)
  • Portable voice monitor with biofeedback to enhance diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders
  • Measures of “voice quality” from continuous speech to improve methods for assessing the impact of voice disorders and methods of treatment on vocal function
  • A new artificial electrolarynx to improve speech communication for laryngectomy patients
  • Atlas of Phonomicrosurgery to educate surgeons in state-of-the-art surgical techniques
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