Overcoming Aphonia in Head and Neck Surgery Patients with VoRA
Delaney H Sheehan;Wayne J Wortmann;Leslie Son2 and Rohan R Walvekar.
Journal Title:Acta Scientific Otolaryngology
Objectives:Our primary objective is to survey patients who have experienced postoperative aphonia after major head neck surgery to understand questions and phrases that were necessary for them to communicate with their healthcare provider. Our secondary objective is to create an application used on an Amazon Fire HD tablet that will allow aphonic patients to interface with their health-care providers.Methods: Survey study of patients in 2019 who had undergone a head or neck surgery resulting in aphonia and who were treated within the Department of Otolaryngology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center. Patient demographics and phrases for effective communication were recorded and analyzed. An application for Android Fire HD tablet was then developed using the survey results to vocalize the phrases.Results: Six patients who were surveyed were included. The causes for aphonia included laryngectomy (n = 4, 67%), squamous cell carcinoma excision (n = 1, 17%), and an unspecified vocal cord procedure (n = 1, 17%). The most commonly requested phrases were “pain medication” (n = 2, 33%) and “discharge date” (n = 2, 33%), followed by “food,” “restroom,” “thank you,” and terms to commu-nicate with friends and family. A prototype application was created for use on an Android Fire HD tablet with 12 phrases associated with image icons available in English and Spanish.Conclusions:Patient anxiety is heightened in the post-operative period when communication with providers is limited due to apho-nia. Technology-based solutions can help ameliorate this barrier to optimal patient care. Further studies will demonstrate the effec-tiveness of the application in the patient care setting.Keywords:Aphonia; Voice Restoration; Tracheostoma; Laryngectomy