Reinke’s edema describes a type of vocal fold polyp. “Reinke’s space” is a layer of the vocal folds that is important in sound production. Reinke’s edema describes excess tissue in this area, causing the appearance of vocal fold polyps. Voice changes, in which females are often mistaken for males, is a hallmark of this disease.
Reinke’s edema – Polypoid changes of both vocal folds
Reinke’s edema is associated with female gender, tobacco use, reflux disease, and voice use.
Symptoms of Reinke’s edema include
- Hoarseness, characterized by a deep pitch.
- Difficulty breathing
Treatment of Reinke’s edema involves
- Control of acid reflux with diet modification and anti-reflux medication
- Smoking cessation is paramount for control of this disease process. Stopping smoking will not reverse changes in the vocal folds. However it may stop further polypoid changes from occurring.
Traditionally Reinke’s edema was treated with surgery in the operating room. A direct laryngosocopy is performed with a patient asleep. Cuts are made in the vocal fold and the excess tissue is removed.
Reinke’s edema with an instrument used to retract the left vocal fold. Not how bulky the vocal folds are.
Reinke’s edema can also be treated in the office using laser. An endoscope is placed to visualize a patients larynx. Laser energy is then applied to a patient’s vocal folds. With time, changes in the vocal fold occur minimizing the size of the vocal folds.