Optical measurements of vocal fold tensile properties: Implications for phonatory mechanics

Jordan E. Kelleher, Thomas Siegmund, Roger W. Chan, Erin A. Henslee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


In voice research, in vitro tensile stretch experiments of vocal fold tissues are commonly employed to determine the tissue biomechanical properties. In the standard stretch-release protocol, tissue deformation is computed from displacements applied to sutures inserted through the thyroid and arytenoid cartilages, with the cartilages assumed to be rigid. Here, a non-contact optical method was employed to determine the actual tissue deformation of vocal fold lamina propria specimens from three excised human larynges in uniaxial tensile tests. Specimen deformation was found to consist not only of deformation of the tissue itself, but also deformation of the cartilages, as well as suture alignment and tightening. Stress-stretch curves of a representative load cycle were characterized by an incompressible Ogden model. The initial longitudinal elastic modulus was found to be considerably higher if determined based on optical displacement measurements than typical values reported in the literature. The present findings could change the understanding of the mechanics underlying vocal fold vibration. Given the high longitudinal elastic modulus the lamina propria appeared to demonstrate a substantial level of anisotropy. Consequently, transverse shear could play a significant role in vocal fold vibration, and fundamental frequencies of phonation should be predicted by beam theories accounting for such effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1729-1734
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 3 2011


  • Biomechanical testing
  • Elasticity
  • Fundamental frequency
  • Optical measurements
  • Vocal folds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Rehabilitation


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