Birmingham Children’s Hospital has launched the Midland’s first specialist multidisciplinary ‘one-stop’ voice service.
The Voice Clinic sees ear, nose and throat (ENT) and speech and language therapy specialists coming together as a multidisciplinary team to offer a ‘one-stop’ approach to diagnosis and treatment. The service also boasts state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment previously only available in a children’s hospital setting in centres such as London and Glasgow.
The new technology, partly funded by Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital Charity, comprises a specialised high-definition flexible camera linked to video and sound recording equipment designed to evaluate the larynx (voice box and vocal cords) in detail.
The camera is not only smaller and better tolerated by young patients; it also has far superior image quality. It also has stroboscopy capability – a method of imaging which is critical in the detailed diagnosis of voice problems.
The use of this cutting-edge technology in clinic will decrease the need for children to be admitted to hospital for a procedure under general anaesthetic to evaluate the voice box.
Around 50 young people are currently being seen at the clinic and this will increase to around 100 per year as the service grows.
Voice problems, such as vocal cord nodules are very common. Five to 10% of all school-age children have a voice disorder, which occur frequently in young people with complex medical conditions such as those with cardiac and neurological problems, those born prematurely and with airway diseases.
Ms Kate Stephenson, Consultant ENT Surgeon at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, explained:
“We identified a lack of specialised service and an opportunity to improve the co-ordination of care for our children and young people.
“Our ‘one-stop’ approach means patients will need fewer appointments to receive a better quality of service.
“We have trialled the new multidisciplinary Voice Clinic format and have had really positive feedback – both patients and families enjoy seeing the images and videos and gain a better understanding of the problem and planned treatment.
“The new investigative camera equipment not only makes it more comfortable to be examined but will improve the diagnosis and treatment of children and young people with voice problems - a cause of significant quality of life and educational impairment.”