A true vocal polyp is a benign swelling of greater than 3 mm that arises from the free edge of the vocal fold . It is usually solitary, but can affect both vocal cords. It is the most common structural abnormality that cause hoarseness and they affect men more than women.They are most frequently seen in smokers and between the ages of 30 and 50 years.
the exact cause of polyp formation is not known, but phonotrauma is an important aetiological factor. There appears to be disruption to the vascular basement membrane, capillary proliferation, thrombosis, minute haemorrhage and fibrin exudation.
The patient may complain that the voice is hoarse, has lowered in pitch, cuts out in speech, that they have lost part of the range of the voice and that it is a strain to speak. Very rarely, large polyps can cause difficulty in breathing and episodes
Polyps can shrink spontaneously or even be coughed up. Voice therapy may help but is unlikely to result in resolution of the polyp. Any concomitant inflammatory conditions should be treated. Most polyps need removal under a general anaesthetic , The aim is to restore the smooth edge of the vocal cord allowing them to close fully and vibrate normally.
Vocal nodules are bilateral, small swellings (less than3 mm in diameter) that develop on the free edge of the vocal fold at approximately the midmembranous portion(anterior 1/3&posterior 2/3). They characterized histologically by thickening of the epithelium with a variable degree ,of
underlying inflammation.In children, they are more common in boys than in girls, while in adults they are very much more commonly found in women particularly .The aetiology of vocal nodules is not known, but thought to be due to voice abuse . Voice abuse is characterized by forced voice production . It may be precipitated by talking for prolonged periods in a loud voice and occasionally repeated coughing and throat clearing. The vocal folds are thought to impact on each other in such a way that the repeated trauma of the midmembranous portions leads to localized swelling and epithelial thickening. Psychological factors, nasal, throat and chest infections, allergies and extraoesophageal reflux are important in the aetiology of vocal nodules.
Nodules disappear spontaneously in boys with the growth of the larynx in puberty. In girls, they may persist into early adulthood. The voice quality is often husky and breathy worsening with voice use and often associated with perilaryngeal discomfort or throat soreness on phonation. The voice may become a little deeper in pitch and associated with voice breaks particularly at the higher end of the range of the voice. The vocal folds are usually hourglass in appearance with often only the nodules making contact at the midmembranous zone.
If nodules are not causing significant voice problems they should be left alone. Aggravating factors, should be treated to reduce their irritant effects. the mainstay of treatment for persistent vocal nodules is voice therapy . complete and rapid return of voice function is only possible if the nodules are excised. so reserve surgery for those who fail voice therapy and remain symptomatic. significant number of nodules recur if surgery is perfonned without voice therapy
Reinke's oedema is a term used to describe the vocal folds when they become chronically and irreversibly swollen .It occurs almost exclusively in smokers, voice strain ,extraoesophageal reflux may also play a part in its development, and Hypothyroidism .
The most common symptoms are:
• deepening of the pitch of the voice with women often being mistaken for a man,
• effortful speaking;
• an inability to raise the pitch of the voice;
• choking episodes;
• other symptoms associated with extraoesophageal reflux.
The diffuse lesions of the membranous part of the vocal fold are bilateral in 60-80 percent of cases, although they may be asymmetrical. Typically the vocal folds are grey or yellowish in colour with prominent superficial vessels. Alternatively the oedematous folds may appear diffusely red when coexistent extraoesophageal reflux should be suspected. In severe cases the vocal folds look like bags of fluid that flop up and down through the glottis with respiration.
• pitch elevation of the voice is the main requirement of treatment.
-Patients must be aware that after surgery:
• friends and relatives may not recognize them by their voice;
• the singing voice may be permanently altered;
• speaking may be more effortful for up to one year
(or occasionally permanently),
• the Reinke's oedema is likely to return within two
years if the patient continues to smoke.
The voice that appears to be too high in pitch for the individual's age and sex . Normally at puberty the voice drops by an octave in boys, but only three to four semitones in girls. In boys, the transition takes from 18 months to three years and is usually completed by the age of 14. This voice change in puberty is accompanied by pitch instability.
treatment is voice therapy, occasionally botulinum toxin injections into the cricothyroid muscles have been shown to be effective in resistant cases.
Arytenoid granulomas are benign inflammatory lesions that arise from the medial surface of the arytenoid cartilages and in particular the vocal processes. These consist of a proliferation of granulation tissue with epithelial hyperplasia. They result from injury to the thin mucoperichondrium over the vocal processes from mechanical trauma, either following intubation or repeated high velocity impact of the vocal processes against each other from throat clearing, coughing or talking in a habitually low pitched manner. Men tend to develop granulomas secondary to hyperfunction, while women develop them more commonly as a result of intubation. In addition, extraoesophageal reflux important aetiological factor either contributing to the symptoms leading to the mechanical trauma or preventing healing of the damaged mucosa.Patients present with a change in the voice and/or vocal fatigue, discomfort or pain localized to the posterosuperior aspect of the larynx which is worse on phonation, coughing and throat clearing and it can radiate to the ear. There may be symptoms associated with extraoesophageal reflux, including choking episodes and, in severe cases, stridor.
They may be unilateral or bilateral and range from a nodular, diffuse thickening over the vocal process to large pedunculated, exophytic masses
The main treatment :stopping smoking, improving vocal hygiene, treating any respiratory tract infections, allergies and extraoesophageal reflux. Voice therapy, Surgery not cure granulomas when used in isolation, as there is a high rate of recurrence. It is useful in confirming the diagnosis
histologically, excluding a carcinoma and in debulking large lesions. Laser vapourization after biopsy reduces the amount of bleeding but it is important to avoid thermal damage to the underlying cartilage.
Botulinum toxin injections into the thyroarytenoid muscle can be useful as an adjunct treatment as it helps reduce the impact of vocal processes against each other allowing the epithelium to heal.