Video stroboscopy is used to examine the vocal cords by placing a viewing scope with a tiny camera through the nose and into the throat. A physician uses this method to detect any abnormalities of the larynx, such as swelling, scar tissue, polyps, or irritations. It is similar to Flexible Laryngoscopy, but also utilizes a strobe light that allows for more detailed evaluation of the motion of the vocal cords. The exam itself takes less than 15 minutes and patients are able to resume normal activities afterwards.
Vocal Cord Atrophy
Vocal cord atrophy occurs when the vocal muscles are thinned out. The cause of vocal cord atrophy varies, but the most common is age. However, nerve injuries such as tumors, viruses, and trauma can result in the thinning of these muscles as well. Vocal fatigue, decreased vocal range, breathy voice, and the inability to hold a note can indicate vocal cord atrophy. Treatment can involve either surgery or voice therapy depending on the cause.
Vocal Cord Nodules
Vocal cord nodules are growths on the vocal cords. These growths are benign and are caused from vocal abuse (strain or injury to the cords). The cause of these nodules includes excessive talking, coughing, inhaling irritants, smoking, screaming, etc. Many of the symptoms include hoarseness, a decrease in the volume of your voice, and slightly breathy. The treatment for vocal cord nodules can be either voice therapy and in some cases, surgery.
Vocal Cord Medialization Procedures
Vocal cord medialization procedures include restoring function to the larynx by moving the vocal folds to the middle. There are two types of procedures – injection and implant. Injection involves injecting a filler material lateral to the the vocal fold which pushes the vocal cord closer together. The material is usually injected through the mouth under anesthesia. Implantation involves placing an implant through an external incision to move the vocal fold into the proper place. After the procedure, you will notice a difference in your voice.
Vocal Cord Spasms
Vocal cord spasms happen when the flow of air is limited through the larynx; this makes it difficult to breath or speak. The cause of the spasms is often not known, but conditions such as laryngopharyngeal reflux, and stress can contribute to these spasms. Certain breathing techniques may relieve symptoms and prevent future spasms. Some neurological causes, such as spasmodic dysphonia can be treated by injections of botox around the nerves that control the larynx.
Treatment of Vocal Cord Motion Abnormalities
Patients can have a variety of vocal cord motion abnormalities. These include laryngospasms, spasmodic dysphonia as well as muscle tension dysphonia.
- Vocal cord spasms, also referred to as laryngospasm, occurs when the vocal cords suddenly close when you take a breath. This causes a person to be unable to speak or breath for a brief moment. Triggers can include allergies, irritants in the environment, anxiety, and LPR. Treatment of this condition may include treatment for LPR. However, there are some measures a person can take to prevent future vocal cord spasms, including avoiding heartburn triggers, limiting alcohol intake and avoiding smoke, breathing techniques, and propping yourself up at night.
- Spasmodic dysphonia is a neurological condition that causes the vocal cords to move erratically when a patient is trying to talk. This can lead to patients voices having a broken/interrupted sound. The treatment for this condition typically involves injections of botox into the muscles involved in phonation. Unfortunately the botox only lasts for about 3 months, so patients frequently have to receive injections 3-4 times per year. Speech therapy also helps some with this, but botox is the primary method of treatment.
- Muscle tension dysphonia is a common cause of voice problems. It is abnormal patterns of muscle activation and movement. It is referred to by many names, including muscle misuse dysphonia, vocal hyperfunction, or muscle tension dysphonia (MTD). It can be worsened by irritants such as smoke, laryngopharyngeal reflux, as well as stress. It is typically treated by trying to eliminate triggers such as LPR and other irritants, but also speech therapy is essential in helping treat patients with muscle tension dysphonia.
Call Waco Ear, Nose & Throat at (254) 776-7744 for more information or to schedule an appointment.