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In 2017, 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, 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 in 2020. 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 AB-SD will be published in 2020. 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 trial has recently concluded and we will published the detailed results in 2020. 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).

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 who did not know what setting was being used.

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 report 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.



Please contact our research nurse by email.