A vocal polyp is an abnormal mass of tissues that grows on one or both vocal cords. It may appear as a swelling or bump (like a nodule), a stalk-like growth, or a blister-like lesion.
Polyps are usually larger than nodules and appear asymmetrically. Nodules also tend to be firm and are specific to one location, while polyps are softer and may occur anywhere along the length of the vocal cord.
Symptoms of Vocal Polyps
Polyps interrupt the vibration of the vocal fold by increasing its mass and by reducing its ease of movement. They also prevent proper closure of the cords throughout speaking. Depending on its nature, a polyp can cause a wide range of voice disturbances.
Common symptoms include vocal fatigue and hoarseness or breathiness. If you experience hoarseness or breathiness longer than two weeks this may signal a voice disorder, and should be examined by an otolaryngologist.
Vocal Cord Polyps
Sometimes referred to as polypoid degeneration or Reinke’s edema, vocal cords polyps are often caused by vocal abuse and smoking.
Vocal Fold Polyps
Like vocal cord polyps, they are the result of phonotrauma. Yet vocal fold polyps can arise from a single episode of vocal cord hemorrhage.
Vocal fold polyps have a variety of appearances including:
- Hemorrhagic (blood filled)
- Edematous (fluid filled)
- Pedunculated (long and stalk-like)
- Sessile (immobile)
- Gelatinous (jelly-like consistency)
- Hyanlinized (transparent)
Polyps are usually found along the edge of the vocal fold lining, but they may also be found along the upper or lower borders. In some cases, a more diffuse pattern called polypoid degeneration or Reinke edema is observed as well.
Treatment and Surgery
In most cases, minor surgery is required. While you are under anesthesia, a skilled ENT surgeon will utilize long, thin microscissors and microknives to remove the polyp. Post-operative rest is usually necessary. While the procedure is relatively safe, it can alter your voice permanently.
Find out how Northwest ENT Surgery Center can restore your voice. Call (678) 483-8833 to schedule your appointment today.