August 1997

Effects of Sinus Surgery on Speech

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Dr Chen), and the Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Dr Chen), Cambridge, Mass; and the Department of Otology and Laryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston (Dr Metson).

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123(8):845-852. doi:10.1001/archotol.1997.01900080079010

Objective:  TO determine the effects of sinus surgery on the production and perception of speech.

Design:  Vocal recordings were performed before, 1 week after, and at least 1 month after sinus surgery. Acoustic spectra were analyzed for nasal consonants/m/and/n/, nasalized vowels, and nonnasalized vowels. Results for nasal consonants were compared with similar recordings obtained from a group of normal subjects with no history of sinus disease. Perceptual analysis of nasalized vowels was conducted by trained phoneticians.

Setting:  Private practice at an academic medical center.

Subjects:  Five patients who underwent endoscopic sinus surgery and 3 normal subjects.

Main Outcome Measures:  The spectral characteristics and perceptual attributes of nasal sounds.

Results:  Significant differences in spectral properties were observed for the consonants and nasalized vowels recorded before and after surgery (P<.001). Perceptual experiments for nasalized vowels demonstrated a postoperative decrease in nasality for the high vowel/i/, as in "beep," and an increase in nasality for the non-high vowel/æ/, as in "bad." These perceived changes correlated well with acoustic measures of nasal peak amplitudes and the lowest resonance peak amplitude of the vocal tract.

Conclusions:  Sinus surgery results in measurable effects on the produced acoustic signal and the perceived nasality of a patient's speech. The identified acoustic correlates may be useful for preoperative counseling of patients concerning expected changes in speech quality following surgery.Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1997;123:845-852