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OUR STORY

In 2017, Dr. Honey was 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, he will publish the first prospective, double-blind, randomized, trial to confirm that DBS could improve both the voice and the quality of life of patients with SD. We are now offering this life changing surgery for patients with SD.

Results of the DEBUSSY trial

This trial is still underway and due to conclude in late 2019. We will post the details once we have published the results. In summary, six patients with spasmodic dysphonia received deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery. This is the same surgery we use for generalized dystonia, essential tremor, and Parkinson’s disease.

The DBS was then either turned “on” or “off” for 3 months without the patient knowing which setting they had. The patient was therefore ‘blind’ to which setting they had during this part of the study. 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.

The final results were compared by a statistician and tested to see if they were significantly different. An example of a voice recording from the first patient with SD to have DBS is provided below (this case was published in the Journal of Neurosurgery in 2017). This patient was the inspiration for the DEBUSSY trial.

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.

Example of a Voice Recording with DBS

This voice recording was taken from the first patient in the world to have their voice recorded with DBS turned “ON” and “OFF”. 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 2017, Volume 17, Pages 1-8.

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