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In 2018, Dr. Honey and his team were the first to prove that spasmodic dysphonia (SD) could be dramatically improved with deep brain stimulation (DBS).

With a grant from the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association, Dr. Honey then led a Phase I trial to quantify the magnitude of its benefit. This prospective, double-blind, randomized control trial has been published in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Neurosurgery (link to paper). We are now offering this life changing surgery for patients with adductor SD.
Recent research by Dr. Honey’s team has shown that this DBS surgery can also help patients with the rare form of ABductor Spasmodic Dysphonia. A case report detailing the results in ABductor-SD has been published in Neurosurgery Open (link to paper). We are now offering this life changing surgery for patients with abductor SD.


Results of the DEBUSSY trial

DEep Brain stimUlation for SpaSmodic dYsphonia = “DEBUSSY” trial

This prospective double-blind Phase I randomized clinical trial has recently concluded and has been published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Neurosurgery (link to paper). There were no complications or unexpected results. In summary, six patients with adductor spasmodic dysphonia received deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery. This is the same surgery we use for other forms of task specific focal dystonias (e.g. cervical dystonia) or Parkinson’s disease.

The DBS was then either turned “on” or “off” for 3 months without the patient knowing which setting they had. The patients were therefore ‘blind’ to which setting they had during this part of the study to eliminate any possible placebo effect. At the end of three months, their voice was recorded and they filled in a quality of life questionnaire. The DBS was then switched to the other setting for another three months and their voice recorded and a quality of life questionnaire filled out again. The voice recordings at the two time points, one with the DBS “on” and one with the DBS “off”, were then compared by speech language pathologists who did not know what setting was being used. Every patient reported their voice was better with the DBS “on” than before surgery or with the DBS “off”. Their quality of life was scored using the Voice-Related Quality of Life (V-RQOL) scale and improved an average of 55 points – the scale ranges from 0-100.

Please click on the ‘DBS’ tab above and select ‘Weighing the Benefits’ from the drop-down menu to see some videos of a patient who has completed the DEBUSSY trial (DBS for SD). The first video shows the patient before surgery and then after their DBS was turned “on” for the first time. The effect was powerful and emotional for the patient. A second video shows the same patient one year later to demonstrate the beneficial effect is sustained and continues to be powerful.

Voice Recording of the first patient with SD to have DBS

These voice recordings was taken from the first patient in the world to have their voice recorded with DBS turned “OFF” and “ON”. They were the subject of our first paper on the topic of DBS for SD. This peer-reviewed paper was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery in 2018, Volume 128(2), Pages 575-582.

Example of a patient with Adductor SD before and after DBS

These voice recording were taken from a patient with Adductor Spasmodic Dysphonia in the DEBUSSY trial. They are speaking with the DBS turned “OFF” and “ON”. Their voice is clearer, stronger, and smoother with the DBS “ON”.

Example of a patient with Abductor SD before and after DBS

These voice recording were taken from a patient with the rare subtype of Abductor Spasmodic Dysphonia. They are speaking with the DBS turned “OFF” and “ON”. Their voice is stronger with the DBS “ON”.



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