Vocal Fold Cysts

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Vocal fold cysts are benign lesions, but unlike nodules which can emerge on the vocal fold as well they are not caused by excessive vocal misuse or straining. The cyst is a collection of fluid in a sac structure. The vocal folds are covered by small glands that dispense mucous, which enables the voice to vibrate more fluidly. If these glands do not drain sufficiently, the collection of mucous can lead to vocal fold cysts formation. These only occur on one fold.


Symptoms you may notice include an unusual alterations in your voice, if your vocals become hoarse, croaky, painful or strained through continued use.


To ascertain whether the lump you feel in this area is in fact a cyst, you will need to be examined by an otolaryngologist. The otalaryngologist will evaluate the vocal folds through several methods: firstly a mirror will be inserted into the back of the mouth, to ensure that when a light is shined upon it, your doctor will be provided with an indication of what colour the mucosa is. Yet this will not be sufficient to evaluate the mucosa. As a result, after local anaesthetic is applied, your doctor can insert a flexible ‘telescope’ through your nose, in order to conduct an analysis at the back of your throat around the larynx. This telescope is known as a flexible nasopharyngolaryngoscope. A rigid endoscopy, (essentially a rod-like telescope with an angled tip) is used to let the otalaryngologist see the larynx more vividly.    


Unlike most benign lesions on the vocal fold, vocal therapy on the whole is not beneficial as it only minimises the irritation, rather than dealing with the problem outright. Instead, it is more than likely that the cyst would need to be surgically removed. So while this is achieved through microlaryngeal instruments, your surgeon will have to be meticulous to ensure the structure of the vocal fold is not affected at all. As little scarring is possible is, of course, preferable. A microscope and high magnification are essential to this operation.

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