Development of a double-membrane sound generator for application in a voice-producing element for laryngectomized patients

J.W. Tack, G.J. Verkerke*, E.B. van der Houwen, H.F. Mahieu, H.K. Schutte

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


For voice rehabilitation after total laryngectomy a shunt valve is usually placed in the tracheo-esophageal (TE) wall, thereby enabling the production of a TE voice. Some patients, however, are unable to produce a voice of sufficient quality. Furthermore, the TE voice is low pitched, which presents a problem especially for female laryngectomized patients. The voice quality after laryngectomy might be improved by introducing a voice-producing element (VPE) into the TE shunt valve. In this study a sound generator was developed that is suitable for application in such a VPE. This sound generator consists of two elastic membranes placed parallel inside a circular housing. A substitute voice source is created when the membranes start to vibrate via a constant flow of air passing between them. To determine the optimal membrane configuration for proper functioning under physiological conditions, up-scaled physical VPE models with different membrane geometries were evaluated using in vitro experimental tests. For certain membrane geometries the tests showed that a basic sound, containing multiple harmonics, could be successfully produced under physiological air pressure and airflow conditions. The fundamental frequency (60-95 Hz) and sound pressure level (57-78 dB, at 15 cm microphone distance) were regulated via changes in the driving pressure, thereby enabling the possibility of intonation in laryngectomized patients' speech. The obtained frequency range is considered appropriate for producing a substitute voice source for female patients. The geometry considerations in this study can be used for the development of a true scale VPE that can be evaluated clinically, to eventually replace the voice after laryngectomy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1896-1907
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of biomedical engineering
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Aero-acoustics
  • In vitro test
  • Laryngectomy
  • Self-sustained oscillations
  • Shunt valve
  • Voice prosthesis
  • Voice rehabilitation
  • Voice sound


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