About Vocal Nodules, Cysts, and Polyps
Vocal cord nodules, vocal cord cysts, and vocal cord polyps are noncancerous growths or bumps, like calluses on your vocal cords. They can cause your voice to sound raspy, breathy, or hoarse. Your voice may crack or cut in and out as the bumps prevent your vocal cords from vibrating normally.
Voice overuse -- such as talking too loudly or too much -- is frequently the cause of these growths, but they can also result from constant coughing, acid reflux, or allergies. If your profession demands you speak constantly and with a loud voice -- as with teachers, clergy, lawyers, and salespeople -- you are at greater risk for developing vocal cord nodules, cysts, or polyps. Singers are also at risk because of their high vocal demands. Left untreated, the growths can lead to voice strain as your body attempts to compensate for your injury.
In many cases, voice therapy can teach you how to use your voice more efficiently and without strain so your injury can heal. In some cases, surgery is needed to remove the growths. After surgery, voice rehabilitation is essential to ensure your best vocal recovery.
Tests for Vocal Cord Nodules, Cysts, and Polyps
A comprehensive evaluation assesses your voice use patterns -- how much you speak, sing, or use a loud voice, and what your voice sounds like. Your laryngologist will evaluate the role of any medical conditions that can cause voice changes, such as surgeries or recent illnesses. We will perform a head and neck examination and a visual examination of your voice box. Tests may also be necessary to create an individualized treatment plan.
For singers, a thorough singing voice evaluation assesses your pitch/vocal range, loudness range, vocal stamina, breath support, resonance, and register transitions. Our singing voice specialists will identify any muscle tension that may be contributing to your voice problem and evaluate your vocal technique relative to your singing style. We also identify strategies to optimize your vocal hygiene and vocal pacing. If needed, we will advocate for your vocal health with directors, producers, tour managers, and other artistic personnel. If you are a performer and have an urgent need for a voice evaluation prior to a performance, please call 919-681-4984 to arrange a timely appointment.
This detailed visual exam helps us evaluate how your vocal cords vibrate while you speak or sing. A tiny camera attached to a small tube called an endoscope is inserted through your nose and allows us to see your vocal cords and larynx (voice box). A flashing strobe light simulates slow motion video images of your vocal cords. The exam takes only about a minute, and your nose may be sprayed with topical anesthetic for your comfort.
The exam allows our team to look for lesions, stiffness, paralysis, irregular movements, throat strain, or incomplete closure of the vocal cords. After the exam, our team will review the images with you to determine an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan together. Videolaryngostroboscopy is essential to reaching an accurate diagnosis and determining the best treatment for your voice.