Laryngology and Voice Disorders

The Laryngology and Voice Disorders team is dedicated to the diagnosis and management of diseases of the larynx including benign and malignant tumors, voice disorders and alterations of laryngeal function.

Working with the Speech-Language Pathology team, the Laryngology teamtreats patients who are having problems with their speaking or singing voice. These include: muscle-tension disorders (where too much force is used to push the vocal folds together); masses (growths) on the vocal folds such as nodules, cysts or polyps; paralyzed vocal folds and neurologic problems such as severe voice tremor, or spasmodic dysphonia.

Examination of the vocal folds may require the use of a flexible telescope through the nose, a rigid telescope through the mouth or a combination of the two. Stroboscopy (which allows the vocal folds to be seen in slow motion) is frequently used to help diagnose the problem. Treatment usually involves voice therapy (to ensure use of the voice without strain), and medications as needed for allergies, thick mucus or acid reflux. Microsurgery is performed when there is a suspicion of cancer, or if a mass is present which is either too large to treat with voice therapy alone or does not get better with voice therapy. Botulinum toxin (Botox) injections are offered to patients with severe voice tremor or spasmodic dysphonia.

Treatment of paralyzed vocal folds depends on whether one or both are paralyzed. If only one is paralyzed, the options include voice therapy, vocal cord injection or performing surgery and placing an implant to move the vocal fold to the middle. If both are involved, the options are fewer and generally a choice must be made between having a good voice or having a good airway.

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Kyla C. Sherrard
Speech Language Pathologist