Isolated Voice Tremor: A Clinical Variant of Essential Tremor or a Distinct Clinical Phenotype?

  • Julie M Barkmeier-Kraemer

Abstract

Background: The consensus statement by the Task Force on Tremor of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society excludes individuals with “isolated voice tremor” as a clinical variant of essential tremor (ET). This clinical viewpoint presents a rationale for reconsideration of “isolated voice tremor” as a clinical variant of ET.

Methods: Evidence from the literature was extracted to characterize the clinical phenotype of “isolated voice tremor,” or essential vocal tremor (EVT). Clinical features were extracted from relevant literature available at pubmed.gov using the terms “EVT,” “essential voice tremor,” “primary voice tremor,” and “organic voice tremor.”

Results: The average age of onset in those with EVT was older than 60 years (range 19–84 years), with 75–93% being female. The typical duration of vocal tremor ranged from 1 to 13 years (average 6 years). The distribution of structures exhibiting tremor included the larynx, soft palate, pharynx, and base of tongue in the majority of patients, with some exhibiting tremor of the head and respiratory musculature. The condition of tremor occurred during speech and quiet respiration in 74% of individuals. Rate of tremor ranged from 4 to 10 Hz. Nearly 70% reported onset of vocal tremor prior to upper limb involvement. Family history of tremor was reported in 38–42% of individuals.

Discussion: Those previously classified with EVT demonstrate a similar familial history, rate, tremor classification, and body distribution of ET. EVT is proposed as a clinical variant of ET in the pattern of onset and progression of body distribution from the midline cranial to spinal neural pathways.

Keywords: Essential tremor, essential vocal tremor, essential voice tremor, primary vocal tremor, isolated voice tremor

Citation: JM. Barkmeier-Kraemer. Isolated Voice Tremor: A Clinical Variant of Essential Tremor or a Distinct Clinical Phenotype? Tremor Other Hyperkinet Mov. 2020; 10. doi: 10.7916/tohm.v0.738