Sound-producing voice prostheses: 150 years of research

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Advanced laryngeal cancer sometimes necessitates the removal of the complete larynx. This procedure involves suturing the trachea to an opening in the neck, the most disturbing consequence of which is the loss of voice. Since 1859, several devices have been developed for voice restoration, based mainly on a vibrating reed element. However, the resulting sound is very monotonous and thus unpleasant. Presently the most successful way of voice restoration is the placement of a one-way shunt valve in the tracheo-esophageal wall, thus preventing aspiration and allowing air to flow from the lungs to the esophagus, where soft tissues start to vibrate for substitute voicing. However, the quality of this voice is often poor. New artificial vocal folds to be placed within the shunt valve have been developed, and a membrane-principle concept appears very promising, owing to the self-cleaning construction and the high voice quality. Future developments will include electronic voice sources. Hopefully these developments will result in a high-quality voice, after 150 years of research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-245
Number of pages31
JournalAnnual review of biomedical engineering
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • METIS-308645
  • IR-101021


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