Adele, the singer-songwriter has announced that she will be undergoing surgery to treat recurrent hoarseness.
Adele has cancelled her tour due to voice changes caused by vocal fold hemhorrage. She has previously been forced to cancel individual shows because of rapid deterioration in her voice, and has now opted for surgery to help her with her condition.
What is hemmhorrage of the vocal folds?
A vocal fold hemorrhage is, as Adele described, like a ‘black eye’ of the vocal fold. Normally, the vocal fold has many blood vessels within which normally are very small. In the case of a hemorrhage one of the vessels bursts causing blood to seep within the layers of the vocal fold. This can happen at a moment’s notice as a result of voice overuse, screaming, or even after a violent cough. The blood weighs down the vocal fold, making it unable to vibrate properly in turn causing voice changes and hoarseness. During a period of hemorrhage the individual is instructed not to speak to enhance healing. Vocal fold hemorrhages are bruises which take up to two weeks to fully resolve. Repeated vocal fold hemorrhages may be due to an abnormal blood vessel within the vocal fold.
Which surgery treats vocal fold hemorrhage?
A direct laryngoscopy is a surgery performed with an individual asleep under general anesthesia. A laryngologist inserts a hollow metal tube in the patient’s mouth to expose the vocal folds. Using a microscope the vocal folds are carefully examined under high power magnification. If a blood vessel is identified which is slightly abnormal, it may be removed with surgical instruments such as small knives and scissors, and/or a laser. Special lasers, such as a KTP laser or Pulsed Dye Laser specifically target blood vessels. These lasers are able to ablate blood vessels without damaging the delicate layers of the vocal folds. If a polyp or cyst is identified at the time of surgery these may be removed at the same time. This surgery is performed without any need for cuts on the skin or neck – it is entirely performed through the mouth.
What is recovery like after surgery?
After surgery individuals may complain of mouth and throat soreness and occasionally pain. This surgery is performed as a day surgery, without need to stay in the hospital overnight. Immediately after surgery the patient may eat – however, to enhance healing some physicians recommend a week of complete voice rest after surgery. During this time it is critical that the patient does not speak, sing, or even whisper.