The voice is arguable still the most important tool of communication despite the growing importance of e-mails and text messaging (SMS) in daily contact. Indeed in modern society people are probably even more dependent on their voice than in the rural societies of old. Approximately one third of the working population nowadays need their voice to earn money1. And it goes without saying that most people need their voice for daily social activities. Any impairment of the voice therefore will have large impact both on daily work and social activities for many people. Diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders is by that of great importance. The voice has a variety of characteristics and so have any of its disorders. The complaints of the patient are the starting point in any diagnosis. These complaints usually consist of ‘my voice is hoarse’. They may also concern the consequences of professional activities, like a teacher whose voice does not reach the back of the classroom, especially in a noisy one. The sound of the voice may have changed and, finally, we have to pay attention to the cause of the problems, the aetiology of the voice disorder. All these aspects need to be assessed in a description of any voice disorder. The complaints of the patient may be collected with a self-evaluation form by the patient him/herself. The character of the sound of the voice (voice quality) can be assessed subjectively with the listening ear of the diagnostician and objectively by instruments. The aetiology is determined by the thorough history taking and physical examination. The form and function of the larynx is examined with, for example, (video)laryngostroboscopy. The outcome of these examinations together leads to a diagnosis, which is the basis for decisions about any modality of treatment including intervention like surgical procedures, voice therapy, medication or any combination of these. The results of these interventions need to be evaluated.

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L. Feenstra (Louw)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Hakkesteegt, M. (2009, October 7). Evaluation of Voice Disorders: Dysphonia Severity Index and Voice Handicap Index. Retrieved from