Healthcare: Ear, Nose and Throat (Otolaryngology)

Vocal Fold Lesions


There are multiple types and names of vocal fold lesions. These include:

  • Vocal cord lesions
  • Vocal fold/cord nodules
  • Singer's nodules
  • Vocal fold/cord polyps
  • Vocal fold/cord cysts
  • Screamer's nodes
  • Vocal fold/cord calluses

Are Vocal Fold Lesions Cancer?


No. These are benign (non-cancerous) growths that are typically associated with thickening of the epithelium (skin) of the vocal folds.


What Are the Symptoms of a Vocal Fold Lesion?

  • Your voice may sound raspy, rough or a different pitch.
  • You may feel discomfort in your throat when you talk.
  • You feel it takes increased effort to talk.
  • Your throat feels tired after you have been talking for a long time.
  • Your voice "gives out" when you are talking for a long time.
  • Your voice may crack.
  • It may be difficult to start speaking.

How Do You Diagnose a Vocal Fold Lesion?


Vocal fold lesions are diagnosed using laryngoscopy with stroboscopy.


What Causes These Vocal Fold Lesions?


These lesions are typically related to inefficient voice use. This means there is excess effort and muscle tension used in the production of voice for either singing or talking. This tension causes the vocal folds to meet more forcefully thus causing reactive changes to the vocal folds.

Yelling, shouting, and screaming are behaviors that can predispose you to the formation of vocal fold lesions.


How Are Vocal Fold Lesions Treated?


The treatment for vocal fold lesions begins with voice therapy with a qualified speech-language pathologist, who will work on resonance (voice placement), air flow, and decreasing laryngeal tension.

If the lesions do not improve with voice therapy, your surgeon may consider phonomicrosurgery to remove the lesion(s). This type of surgery is done under general anesthesia using a microscope and specialized instruments. Surgery is typically followed by a week of voice rest and then several weeks of gradually increased voice use and voice therapy. However, if the underlying vocal inefficiencies are not addressed, the lesions may return.