Conclusions. With the use of a new automatic stoma valve (ASV) it appears possible to rehabilitate patients who have previously been unsuccessful in acquiring hands-free speech. As well as making daily ASV use possible for an additional group of patients, this new device was also appreciated by many patients as an additional rehabilitation tool for specific occasions. Despite statistically significant improvements in aspects of voice and breathing using this novel ASV, improvement of peristomal adhesion is probably the main factor needed to further increase success rates. Nevertheless, our results show that it makes sense to keep trying to achieve hands-free speech, even if previous attempts have failed. Objective. To make a long-term (6 months) assessment of compliance and aspects of voice, breathing and quality of life using a new ASV: the Provox FreeHands heat and moisture exchanger (HME). Material and methods. This was a prospective clinical multicentre trial in 79 laryngectomized patients (8 regular ASV users, 58 previously unsuccessful users and 13 new users). Data were collected at baseline and after 1 and 6 months by means of European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life questionnaires and specific structured questionnaires concerning compliance, skin adhesion, voicing and pulmonary aspects. An objective assessment of voice parameters (maximum phonation time, maximum phonation time while counting, dynamic loudness range and number of pauses in a standard read-aloud text) was made for comparison of different stoma occlusion methods (digital occlusion via an HME and two different ASVs). A subjective assessment of overall voice quality was made. Results. After 6 months, 19% of patients used the new ASV on a daily basis (mean 5 h/day), while 57% used it on an irregular basis as an additional rehabilitation tool for special occasions. Two-thirds of the study group indicated that they would continue to use the new ASV after the study period. With respect to the objective parameters, statistically significantly better maximum phonation times and dynamic loudness ranges were observed with the new ASV compared to the Blom-Singer ASV However, the best results for all the objective parameters were obtained with digital occlusion via the Provox HME.

Automatic stoma valve, Compliance, Hands-free speech, Provox freehands heat and moisture exchanger, Quality of life, Total laryngectomy, Voice quality,
Acta Oto-Laryngologica
Department of Otorhinolaryngology

Op de Coul, B.M.R, Ackerstaff, A.H, van As-Brooks, C.J, van den Hoogen, F.J.A, Meeuwis, C.A, Manni, H, & Hilgers, F.J.M. (2005). Compliance, quality of life and quantitative voice quality aspects of hands-free speech. Acta Oto-Laryngologica, 125(6), 629–637. doi:10.1080/00016480510031515