Polyps are fluid filled lesions located on the vocal fold. Unlike polyps in other portions of the body, such as the colon, vocal fold polyps are benign and not associated with cancer. Polyps cause symptoms by interrupting vocal fold closure, interrupting the production of sound.
Vocal fold polyps noted on both vocal folds.
Vocal fold polyps can cause symptoms such as:
- Rough voice
- Breathy voice
- Irregular voice
- Vocal fatigue, or tiring, with use
- Loss of certain notes of a person’s range
Vocal fold polyps are diagnosed during laryngoscopy and stroboscopy. They appear as fluid filled lesions on the free edge of the vocal fold. Polyps typically develop in the midportion of the vocal fold as do nodules and cysts. When large enough polyps prevent closure of the vocal folds, causing air escape during voice production. Reactive lesions may be present on the opposite vocal fold.
Hemmorhagic polyp on the right vocal fold.
Vocal fold polyps may initially be treated with voice therapy. Voice therapy improves and enhances use of the vocal fold, teaching the patient to avoid behaviors that commonly contribute to polyp formation. Voice therapy is performed with a speech language pathologist.
For polyps that do not fully respond to voice therapy, microlaryngosopy with excision of the polyp is performed. With a patient asleep a laryngoscope is inserted in the mouth and microscope is used to magnify the view of the vocal fold. Special instruments are used to remove the polyp.
Following surgery a patient is placed on voice rest for a short period and then begins voice therapy with a speech therapist.