What are vocal cord cysts?

Vocal cord hemorrhagic cyst, before and after excision

Our vocal cords are V-shaped structures that constantly open and close in order to allow for breathing versus vibrating and generating voice for speech. Occasionally, overuse or misuse of the vocal cords through shouting, loud singing, or other habits can cause damage to the vocal cords.

One condition that can develop is called vocal cord cyst. By definition, a cyst is any fluid-containing sac of usually benign nature. In relating to the vocal cord cysts, they are usually seen after the patient has had a period of misuse or overuse of the voice box. This could be after singing loudly or shouting. Sometimes patients who have been coughing quite forcefully for other related conditions can also develop a cyst in the vocal cords.

In contrast to vocal nodules, which are usually symmetrical on both cords, cysts could be more common on one side. They result in a symptom of chronic raspy voice that does not seem to be going away with usual treatments. Cysts of the vocal cords could be filled with fluid or they could be hemorrhagic cysts, which are due to a rupture of a blood vessel.

For most patients, an initial course of voice therapy is advised in order to reduce the strain on the vocal cords. Patients are also encouraged to reduce the voice use and to adhere to better vocal hygiene techniques.

Occasionally, conservative measures alone are not successful and the patient might need to undergo decompression of the cyst. This would be done under anesthesia with careful techniques. This is considered to be an ambulatory-type procedure and essentially everybody can be released home the same day.

Most patients are advised to adhere to even a stricter regimen of voice rest after this kind of procedure. Voice therapy is especially important after the procedure in order to prevent any future trauma to the voice box.

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Posted in: Throat, Voice

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