Nonorganic is a term used to describe an apparently physical disorder that in fact is not arising from the organ or body part but from an abnormality of the use or presentation of that body part.


  1. Nonorganic voice disorder, in which the larynx is structurally and neuromuscularly normal, but the sound is absent or very abnormal.
  2. Nonorganic breathing disorder, tracheal, in which breathing noises made in the trachea mimic asthma.
  3. Nonorganic dysphagia, in which swallowing function is normal but factitious events occur during the voluntary phases of swallowing.

See also: laryngeal nonorganic breathing disorder; nonorganic overlay; nonorganic cough; nonorganic asthma;

Nonorganic Voice Disorder

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Nonorganic voice (1 of 3)

Panoramic view of normal breathing position with abducted vocal cords.

Nonorganic voice (2 of 3)

Vocal cord position for normal voice.

Growling voice (3 of 3)

Abnormal voice created on a non-organic (functional) basis: Vibratory blur of supraglottic tissues - especially arytenoid mounds - create an inappropriate, rough, growling voice.

Example 2

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Nonorganic voice (1 of 2)

Normal vocal cord posturing with, accordingly, normal voice production.

Nonorganic voice (2 of 2)

Same patient, moments earlier in the same examination, with nonorganic vocal cord posturing and, accordingly, nonorganic voice disturbance.

Example 3

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Nonorganic voice (1 of 4)

Breathing position, standard light, showing normal morphology and mucosa.

Voicing position (2 of 4)

During this moment of appropriate vocal cord posturing and tensing, we see normal adduction and hear normal voice.

Nonorganic vocal cord posturing (3 of 4)

Strobe light, voicing, open phase of vibration. Nonorganic vocal cord posturing (see separate vocal processes) combined with nonorganic flaccidity (non-contraction) of the thyroarytenoid muscles such that the cords flap like unsecured sails in the wind (luffing).

Flaccidity is gone (4 of 4)

Only moments later, normal tension is returned volitionally to the vocal cords. The flaccidity is gone and vocal cord vibration and resulting voice return to normal.

Nonorganic Breathing Disorder, Tracheal

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Nonorganic breathing disorder, tracheal (1 of 2)

View of the distal trachea at the carina (where the windpipe divides into the right and left mainstem bronchi). Orienting arrow at the base of the carina.

Nonorganic breathing disorder, tracheal (2 of 2)

With exhalation, the tracheoesophageal party wall bulges inward to largely obstruct the right mainstem bronchus. The result is convincing, but nonorganic, wheezing. This is suspected from the patient's affect (e.g., surprising nonchalance and distractibility) and because the wheezes auscultate more loudly over the central chest than in the periphery. (In this slightly closer view, an arrow again indicates the base of the carina.)