(HealthDay News) — An electrolarynx can be used successfully in orally intubated patients receiving mechanical ventilation, according to a letter to the editor published in the March 20 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Armand R.J. Girbes, MD, PhD, and Paul W.G. Elbers, MD, PhD, both from the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, report the successful use of an electrolarynx (an oscillating device that produces vibrations to allow speech) in an orally intubated 59-year-old man receiving mechanical ventilation following complications from lung cancer surgery.

The authors report that the device immediately enabled speech in the patient without the passage of air through the vocal cords, easing the patient’s frustration at not being able to speak. With just two minutes of instruction, nurses were able to place the device. In this case, the most effective placement of the device was between the upper trachea and the sternocleidomastoid muscle. The device has since been successfully used in other intubated patients.

“Since the ability to speak reduces anxiety in patients in the intensive care unit, we hypothesize that the selected use of an electrolarynx may be helpful in preventing or reducing stress and delirium in these patients,” the authors write.

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