Jet engines help save voices

FRESNO, Calif.

Picking up the phone or placing an order is something Jan Christian hasn't been able to do for decades. At just 17, a car accident robbed her of her voice. Jan's throat hit the dashboard, crushing her larynx. After that, she barely spoke above a whisper.

"I sounded like the girl in the Exorcist," Jan Christian, told Action News.

"She was completely what you call euphonic. She was talking like that [whispers] and you don't know if that's something you can fix or not," Sid Khosla, M.D., an assistant professor at UC department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and director at UC Health professional voice center at the University Hospital Cincinnati, explained.

Normal vocal cords come together and vibrate to produce sound, but in Jan's case, the cords were so severely crushed, they couldn't join together. To rebuild them, Doctor Sid Khosla took what he knew about throat cancer patients and coupled it with his research on jet engines and flow patterns.

"The flow has these things called vertices which are areas of rotational motion," Dr. Khosla said. "And from aerospace, from jet engines we know that the vertices can cause sound."

Those principles enabled doctor Khosla to build new cords with lining from Jan's cheek and a laser to stiffen them so they could come together and vibrate.

While still not perfect, words can't describe how thankful Jan is to have her voice back.

"I broke down in tears cause i never thought there was a possibility," Jan said.

A possibility 35 years in the making. Jan's now working with a speech therapist to get her voice even stronger. Doctor Khosla has performed the first of several surgeries similar to Jan's on a 16 year old girl who's throat was crushed when a 750 pound basketball hoop fell on her.

If you would like more information, please contact:
Sid Khosla, MD
University Hospital Cincinnati
UC Health Professional Voice Center

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