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Conditions We Treat: Phonotrauma (Cysts, Polyps and Nodules)

Your vocal cords vibrate very fast, with collisions of one side against the other at frequencies of hundreds of times per second. If the voice is used too much or improperly, these collisions can lead to the development of lesions on the vocal cords that affect how they come together and/or vibrate, a condition called phonotrauma. People who use their voice consistently such as singers, performers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, broadcasters and salespeople are most susceptible to phonotrauma.

Phonotrauma: What You Need to Know

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  • Vocal nodules (callouses) are superficial lesions on the lining of the vocal cords and usually occur in the middle of both vocal folds.
  • A vocal cord polyp (blister), usually on one vocal cord, can be soft or firm and can be clear or red from hemorrhage.
  • A vocal cord cyst is deeper in the vocal fold, under the superficial lining. Vocal cord cysts are believed to start following phonotrauma, but some may be there from birth and grow very slowly with time.
  • Ectasias are dilated or abnormal blood vessels under the surface of the vocal cord that can bleed and cause vocal fold stiffness.
  • Vocal cord sulcus, scarring of the vocal cord with an indentation along the inner edge of the vocal cord, can lead to reduction in vocal cord vibration.
  • Phonotrauma is often treated with voice therapy, but surgery or KTP Laser treatment may be required in some cases.

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Why Choose Johns Hopkins for Phonotrauma?

Johns Hopkins Voice Center Doctors

Our Physicians

Rely on the expertise of our physicians to treat phonotrauma.

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Our Services

Johns Hopkins also has a team of expert speech language pathologists who work with phonotrauma patients who need voice therapy.

Learn more about voice therapy.
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Our Patient Education

Dr. Lee Akst, Director of the Johns Hopkins Voice Center, answers some of the most frequently asked questions.

Watch our Voice Center FAQ video.