OBJECTIVES - We describe a method for eliciting phonation in an in vivo rabbit preparation using low-frequency, bipolar pulsed stimulation of the cricothyroid muscles with airflow delivered to the glottis.
METHODS - Ten New Zealand White breeder rabbits weighing 3 to 5 kg were used in this study. The cricothyroid muscles were isolated bilaterally, and separate pairs of anode-cathode hooked-wire electrodes were inserted into each muscle. A Grass S-88 stimulator and 2 constant-current PSIU6 isolation units were used to deliver bipolar square wave pulses to each cricothyroid muscle, with airflow delivered to the glottis through a cuffed endotracheal tube.
RESULTS - Phonation was evoked with a 50-Hz, 4-mA stimulus train of 1-ms pulses delivered to each cricothyroid muscle. The pulse trains were on for 2 seconds and were repeated every 5 seconds over a period of 180 minutes. Airflow was delivered at 143 cm3/s, producing phonation measuring 71 to 85 dB sound pressure level.
CONCLUSIONS - Evoked phonation is feasible in rabbits by use of bipolar stimulation of the cricothyroid muscles with airflow delivered to the glottis. The in vivo rabbit preparation described may provide a useful small animal option for studies of evoked phonation. From the level and consistency of the adduction observed, we hypothesize that current spreading to the underlying adductor muscles and nerves resulted in neural pathway involvement beyond discrete activation of the cricothyroid muscle, providing sufficient approximation of the vocal folds for phonation.