Acoustic voice analysis in the COVID-19 era
Objective. Among the different procedures used by the ENT, acoustic analysis of voice has become widely used for correct diagnosis of dysphonia. The instrumental measurements of acoustic parameters were limited during the COVID-19 pandemic by the common belief that a face mask affects the results of the analysis. The purpose of our study was to investigate the impact of surgical masks on F0, jitter, shimmer and harmonics-to-noise ratio (HNR) in adults.
Methods. The study was carried out on a selected group of 50 healthy subjects. Voice samples were recorded directly in Praat. All subjects were trained to voice a vocal sample of a sustained /a/, at a conversational voice intensity, with no intensity or frequency variation, for the Maximum Phonation Time (MPT), wearing the surgical mask and then without wearing the surgical mask.
Results. None of the variations in acoustic voice analysis detected wearing a surgical mask and not wearing a surgical mask were statistically significant.
Conclusions. Our study demonstrates that the acoustic voice analysis procedure can continue to be performed with the use of a surgical mask for the patient, even during the COVID- 19 pandemic.