Objective: To design and test an improvised tracheotomy speaking valve fabricated from recycled parts of an anesthesia airway breathing circuit.
Design: Surgical Instrumentation
Setting: Tertiary Private Hospital
Subjects: Speaking valves fabricated from discarded anesthesia breathing circuit parts were pilot-tested on three patients: one with vocal fold paralysis, another with a supraglottic mass and one post hemi-laryngectomy.
Results: The improvised tracheotomy speaking valve was inexpensive and relatively easy to assemble. All three patients tolerated speech well through the speaking valve and were pleased to reestablish their means of verbal communication. Maximum Phonation Time (MPT) averaged 8 seconds for all three subjects.
Conclusion: In our local setting, improving the quality of life of tracheotomized patients should be accessible to all, hence the value of an improvised speaking valve. It provides a more affordable means of restoring speech and because it is made from recycled materials, it is ecofriendly. Our improvised speaking valve is also a cheaper but viable alternative to more expensive commercially available ones. Clinical trials with standardized feedback questionnaires, multiobserver perceptual evaluation with a system such as the GRBAS and/or vocal acoustic measures in a speech laboratory should be made to assess long term use, efficiency and safety measures.