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Original Investigation
January 2017

Device Life of the Tracheoesophageal Voice Prosthesis Revisited

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Head and Neck Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;143(1):65-71. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2016.2771
Key Points

Question  What is the duration of device life and how is this influenced by tracheoesophageal (TE) voice prostheses?

Findings  In this retrospective study of 390 laryngectomized patients with TE puncture (3648 total prosthesis replacements), median device life was 61 days for all prostheses. Most prostheses (69%) were replaced because of leakage. Neither radiation nor extent of surgery had a meaningful effect on device life.

Meaning  Voice prothesis duration demonstrates lower durability than historically reported, highlighting the need for better voice prothesis design and proper patient counseling to ensure appropriate TE puncture candidate selection and accurate patient expectations for successful TE speech outcomes.


Importance  Voice prosthesis (VP) device life is a limiting factor of tracheoesophageal (TE) voice restoration that drives patient satisfaction, health care costs, and overall burden. Historic data suggest that TE VPs have an average device life of generally 3 to 6 months, but these data are typically derived from small samples using only 1 or 2 devices.

Objective  To reexamine current device life in a large, contemporary cancer hospital in the United States that uses a wide assortment of VPs.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This retrospective observational study included 390 laryngectomized patients with a tracheoesophageal puncture (TEP) who had VP management at MD Anderson Cancer Center between July 1, 2003, and December 31, 2013.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Tracheoesophageal voice–related outcomes were: (1) device life duration to VP removal, and (2) treatment-related and prosthetic-related factors influencing device failure. Primary independent variables included treatment history (extent of surgery and radiation history), VP type (indwelling vs nonindwelling, size, specialty features), and reason for removal (leakage, complication, other). Duration was examined using Kaplan-Meier analysis. Disease, treatment, and patient-specific factors were analyzed as predictors of duration.

Results  Overall, 3648 VPs were placed in the 390 patients (median [range] age, 62 [34-92] years). Indwelling prostheses accounted for more than half (56%) of the devices placed (55%, 20-Fr diameter; 33%, 8-mm length). More than two-thirds (69%) of prostheses were removed because of leakage, while the rest were removed for other reasons. Median device life was 61 days for all prostheses. Indwelling and nonindwelling VPs had median device lives of 70 and 38 days, respectively. There was no significant difference between specialty prostheses compared with standard devices (median duration, 61 vs 70 days, respectively). The Provox ActiValve (Atos Medical) had the longest life. Neither radiation therapy nor extent of surgery had a meaningful impact on device life.

Conclusions and Relevance  Our data suggest that VP duration demonstrates a lower durability than historically reported. This may reflect the intensification of treatment regimens that complicate TEP management in an era of organ preservation; however, further investigation is needed.