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Paralyzed Vocal Folds

Though uncommon, the vocal folds may become paralyzed if the nerves in the voice box are damaged. This type of damage may result from:
  • Certain viruses
  • Tumors in the upper chest or neck
  • Breathing tubes in the windpipe
  • Complications from neck or chest surgery
People with vocal fold paralysis will experience difficulty speaking and possibly swallowing. In some situations, they may also have difficulty breathing.

Temple's otolaryngologists are highly experienced in diagnosing and treating paralyzed vocal folds.

Paralyzed Vocal Fold Treatment at Temple

Vocal Fold Injections
A paralyzed vocal fold does not allow for complete closure of the glottis.  To correct this and improve the voice, a Temple otolaryngologist may choose to inject the fold with a synthetic filler. These injections push the paralyzed vocal fold closer to the midline allowing the opposite mobile vocal fold to meet it and lead to voice production.

Temple's surgeons are highly experienced in performing laryngeal injections.

Thyroplasty (Laryngoplasty)
Thyroplasty is a surgical procedure that improves voice by changing the position of the vocal folds. At Temple, thyroplasty is used to treat vocal paralysis, vocal weakness and aging voice.

Thyroplasty is a procedure that is typically performed under local anesthesia in the operating room. The surgeon begins by making an incision in the neck. The surgeon will then adjust the position of the vocal fold and insert an implant to keep it in place. Once the position of the fold has been adjusted, the surgeon will ask the patient to speak in order to gauge vocal strength. The surgeon and patient will sometimes "test" several different vocal fold positions before the ideal position is chosen.

Once the surgery site has healed, most patients will be able to speak normally. Depending on the severity of the problem, some patients may need to work with a speech therapist.

Temple's otolaryngologists are highly experienced in performing thyroplasty to treat vocal paralysis, weakness, and aging.

Voice Therapy
Voice therapy may be recommended as a first line treatment for hoarseness due to vocal fold paralysis, or it may be recommended following injection or thyroplasty to ensure optimal voice results.