Click through these photos to see voice disorders commonly treated at Duke, including vocal fold polyps, cysts, and nodules.
For all pictures, the left vocal fold is on the right side of the picture, and the right vocal fold is on the left side of the picture.
Bilateral vocal fold nodules
Vocal nodules -- also known as nodes or singer’s nodes -- are akin to calluses of the vocal folds. They occur on both vocal cords opposite each other at the point where the vocal folds come together with the most contact during vocal fold vibration.
Vocal fold cysts usually occur due to a combination of overuse of the voice and throat irritation. Depending on its size and depth within the vocal fold, a vocal fold cyst can cause some stiffness and change vocal fold vibration, causing hoarseness.
A vocal fold polyp is a benign lesion (bump) that can form on one or both sides of the vocal folds, and may be white, translucent (like this one), or red if there is a hemorrhage. A vocal fold polyp is usually caused by a combination of voice overuse and throat irritation.
A vocal fold hemorrhage is a bleed that occurs when a blood vessel on the surface of the vocal fold ruptures and bleeds in the tissue of the vocal fold, giving the vocal fold a reddish color, as in the this picture of a fresh hemorrhage.
Right vocal fold with hemorrhagic polyp at mid-fold -- the reddish and yellowish areas on the right vocal fold indicate recent, resolving hemorrhage
The left vocal fold shows signs of ectasia
A vocal fold hemorrhagic polyp occurs when a blood vessel going into the lesion becomes enlarged or begins to bleed. The ectasia on the left vocal fold is a blood vessel that has become enlarged in a local area, but has not ruptured and bled into the surrounding tissue.
Severe bilateral polypoid changes to the vocal folds (Reinke's edema), creating airway restriction
Reinke's edema (also called polypoid degeneration of the vocal folds) is caused by chronic irritation to the vocal folds, often associated with smoking. The vocal folds becomes swollen, causing hoarseness and a deeper-speaking pitch. In severe cases, as in the this picture, Reinke's edema can cause restriction of the airway and difficulty breathing, which requires surgery.
Vocal fold paralysis is caused by damage to the nerve that operates the vocal fold. Paralysis means that the vocal fold is "stuck," usually in the closed position. This can cause a hoarse, breathy voice, trouble swallowing, and some changes to breathing.