Your vocal cords produce sound by vibration – repeatedly colliding against each other. Phonotraumatic lesions are thought to come from overuse and abuse of the vocal cords – leading to a callus (vocal nodule) or a blister (vocal cord polyp). When the vocal cords collide and scar over a duct which then fills with mucus, it is classified as a vocal cyst.
- Vocal nodules (calluses) are usually symmetric (grow on both vocal folds).
- Vocal cord polyps (blisters) tend to be on one vocal cord, and may be soft or firm.
- Vocal cysts generally more deeply within the vocal cord rather than on its surface. Though most cysts are acquired through phonotrauma, sometimes people may be born with congenital vocal cord cysts.
People who use their voices often as part of their job (teachers, singers, lawyers, salespeople, etc.) are at greatest risk of developing nodules, polyps or cysts.
Treating Vocal Nodules, Polyps and Cysts
Treatment options for vocal nodules, polyps and cysts include:
- Voice therapy – By learning to use the voice correctly, patients are often able to improve their voice quality, limit phonotrauma, and may even see improvement in the size of the lesion itself.
- Phonosurgery (voice surgery) – Making a careful incision in the vocal cord, the surgeon removes the traumatic lesion from the vocal cord while preserving the normal portions of the vocal cord next to the lesion. The goal of phonosurgery is to save and restore the natural vibrations of the vocal cords.
Make an Appointment
Contact the Johns Hopkins Voice Center by calling 443-997-6467 (443-997-OHNS).