What is Vocal Fold Scar: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis

What Is Vocal Fold Scar?

A Vocal Fold Scar is a pathological condition caused as a result of damage to the tissues of the vocal folds, which when vibrate facilitate in producing sounds. Under normal circumstances, the lamina propria which is a network of fibers makes sure that the lining of the tissues in the vocal folds is flexible and not attached tightly to the deeper tissues as if the lining of the tissues of the vocal folds are not flexible, then it will result in the sound not being produced adequately.

What happens in Vocal Fold Scarring is that this tissue lining of the vocal cords become damaged such that they do not vibrate the way they should be, resulting in distortion of voice quality and hoarseness of voice of the affected individual.

A Vocal Fold Scar normally results due to a surgical procedure to treat conditions such as a cancer of the larynx. Vocal Fold Scar may also develop as a result of overuse such as screaming at a rock concert or shouting while addressing a public meeting. An accident or trauma to the larynx may also result in Vocal Fold Scar. There are certain medical conditions that may also cause a Vocal Fold Scar.

What Is Vocal Fold Scar?

What Are The Symptoms Of Vocal Fold Scar?

The primary presenting feature of a Vocal Fold Scar is hoarseness of voice as a result of abnormal vibration of the vocal folds. The extent of the hoarseness of voice is directly proportional to the severity of the scarring meaning that the greater the scarring the more the hoarseness of voice would be.

The quality of the voice also is extremely strained in individuals with Vocal Fold Scar. This is because the abnormal vibrations of the vocal folds requires more effort on the part of the individual to produce sounds which makes the quality of the voice strained. As a result of this straining, individuals may have problems with tightness of the neck muscles.

The symptoms of Vocal Fold Scar become worse with use and better with rest. There is no effect on the ability to breathe or swallow as a result of Vocal Fold Scar.

How Is Vocal Fold Scar Diagnosed?

The best way to diagnose Vocal Fold Scar is by doing a videostroboscopy. This is a procedure in which the vocal cords are evaluated using a strobe light which is passed through the vocal cords with the use of an endoscope. Because of the strobe light, the physician is able to visualize the vocal cords and can identify the presence of Vocal Fold Scar.

A strobe light is used for evaluation of vocal cords during speaking because when an individual speaks the vocal cords tends to vibrate at a very rapid rate due to which it becomes very difficult to assess any abnormality in the vocal cords. This is precisely the reason why many cases of Vocal Fold Scar remain undiagnosed. On evaluation, if there is dullness to the vocal cords, or presence of inflammation, swelling, or deposition of fibrous tissue then the diagnosis is confirmed of a Vocal Fold Scar.

How Is Vocal Fold Scar Treated?

There is no specific treatment for Vocal Fold Scar. Physicians prefer precautions be taken whenever an individual is required to undergo surgery around the vocal cord area so as to prevent development of Vocal Fold Scar.

Additionally, certain lifestyle modifications such as quitting smoking and if the affected individual is dealing with acid reflux, controlling that is also recommended to prevent development of Vocal Fold Scar.

If a patient has to undergo surgery around the laryngeal area then routine voice tests and therapy will be done postsurgery to make sure that there is no scarring of the vocal folds. During any surgery involving the larynx or the vocal cords the surgeon should be extra careful so as to prevent any damage to the lamina propria which may result in Vocal Fold Scar.

In case if there is development of Vocal Fold Scar, it is basically treated conservatively. Resting the voice and not speaking much along with diligent voice therapy is recommended for a few weeks so as not to aggravate the condition and allow the vocal folds to heal from Vocal Fold Scar.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 26, 2022

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