The most common cause for a hoarse voice is swelling of the vocal cords. This can be caused by various factors including viral laryngitis, heavy use of the voice or misuse of the voice, acid irritation to the throat and voice box from gastric reflux. Other potential causes for hoarseness include abnormalities of the muscles that move the vocal cords. There can be spasms, tremors or just muscle tension leading to vocal dysfunction. In addition, certain benign or cancerous growths can occur on the vocal cords and cause alterations in the voice and sometimes swallowing.
The physicians at Ear, Nose & Throat Surgeons of Western New England LLC begin every evaluation with a thorough history to determine the amount of voice use, tobacco and alcohol history, and coexisting medical problems including allergy, reflux and neurologic disorders. Any history of prior respiratory infections, surgery and persistent discomfort needs to be discussed with your physician.
The physical exam consists of at least a mirror evaluation of the vocal cords through the patient's mouth. Frequently, a small fiberoptic telescope is passed through the nose or mouth to allow a better detailed examination.
In certain instances, a specialized examination of the vocal cords under slow motion is performed. The examination, videostroboscopy, is frequently performed with a speech pathologist specially trained in voice disorders. This allows not only a detailed look at the anatomy of the cords, but a look at their function. We are the only practice in Western Massachusetts performing this evaluation as part of a “voice team.”
Examples of specific areas of diagnosis and treatment:
- Microscopic, minimally invasive removal of vocal nodules, polyps and sub-mucosal cysts.
- Laser treatment of laryngeal papillomas (warts) in adults and children
- Surgical correction of the paralyzed vocal cord
- Radiese injections
- Medialization Thyroplasty
- Minimally invasive endoscopic resection of laryngeal tumors
- Botox injections for spasmodic dysphonia