Physiology and prospects of bimanual tracheoesophageal brass instrument play

F.J.M. Hilgers, R. Dirven, I. Jacobi, M.W.M. van den Brekel

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study investigated whether trachea pressures during brass instrument play of laryngectomised patients are within the range of those measured during tracheoesophageal voicing, and whether application of an automatic speaking valve can ‘free’ both hands to play a brass instrument. Objective assessment of voicing and music playing parameters was carried out in 2 laryngectomised patients with a low-pressure indwelling voice-prosthesis able to play brass instruments (tenor horn and slide trombone): sound pressure levels in dB, maximum phonation time in seconds and trachea pressures in mmHg; videofluoroscopy, stroboscopy and digital high speed endoscopy to assess neoglottis vibration and opening. The dynamic range of the voice in the patients was 29 and 20 dB, and maximum phonation time was 22 and 19 sec, respectively; intratracheal pressures during voicing varied from 7 mmHg for the softest /a/ to 49 mmHg for the loudest /a/. For brass instrument play, the intratracheal pressures varied from 14 mmHg for the softest tone to 48 mmHg for the loudest tone. Imaging confirmed earlier findings that the neoglottis is closing and vibrating during voicing and remains ‘open’ without vibrations during music play, indicating good neoglottis control and innervation. From these objective measurements, we can conclude that trachea pressures during brass instrument play are within physiological ranges for tracheoesophageal voicing with a low-pressure indwelling voice-prosthesis. Furthermore, it was shown that application of a stable baseplate for retaining an automatic speaking valve and an additional customisable ‘neck brace’ makes bimanual play possible again.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-207
JournalActa otorhinolaryngologica italica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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