Hierarchical classification and system combination for automatically identifying physiological and neuromuscular laryngeal pathologies

Hugo Tito Cordeiro, Jose Manuel Fonseca, Isabel Guimarães, Carlos Meneses Ribeiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Speech signal processing techniques have provided several contributions to pathologic voice identification, in which healthy and unhealthy voice samples are evaluated. A less common approach is to identify laryngeal pathologies, for which the use of a noninvasive method for pathologic voice identification is an important step forward for preliminary diagnosis. In this study, a hierarchical classifier and a combination of systems are used to improve the accuracy of a three-class identification system (healthy, physiological larynx pathologies, and neuromuscular larynx pathologies). Method: Three main subject classes were considered: subjects with physiological larynx pathologies (vocal fold nodules and edemas: 59 samples), subjects with neuromuscular larynx pathologies (unilateral vocal fold paralysis: 59 samples), and healthy subjects (36 samples). The variables used in this study were a speech task (sustained vowel /a/ or continuous reading speech), features with or without perceptual information, and features with or without direct information about formants evaluated using single classifiers. A hierarchical classification system was designed based on this information. Results: The resulting system combines an analysis of continuous speech by way of the commonly used sustained vowel /a/ to obtain spectral and perceptual speech features. It achieved an accuracy of 84.4%, which represents an improvement of approximately 9% compared with the stand-alone approach. For pathologic voice identification, the accuracy obtained was 98.7%, and the identification accuracy for the two pathology classes was 81.3%. Conclusions: Hierarchical classification and system combination create significant benefits and introduce a modular approach to the classification of larynx pathologies. © 2016 The Voice Foundation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal Of Voice
Publication statusIn preparation - 2016


  • Continuous speech
  • Hierarchical classification
  • Larynx pathology identification
  • Pathologic voice identification
  • Sustained vowel


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