Vocal Cord Lesions

​Your vocal cords are two flexible bands at the entrance to your windpipe. Vocal cord lesions are abnormal growths within or along the vocal cord. These appear as benign (non-cancerous) nodules, polyps or cysts in the vocal cords. As they are associated with the vocal cord, hoarseness and changes in voice are prominent signs of a vocal cord lesion.

Vocal cord cysts are fluid-filled sac-like structures that appear on the vocal cords. 

Vocal cord nodules are thick growths which spear on both sides of the vocal cords and happen because of repeatedly overusing or misusing the voice.

Vocal cord polyps are different from nodules and appear reddish in colour. They can appear on either one or both vocal cords. They can also be caused by misuse of one’s voice over time, or by a single incident of voice misuse, such as yelling uncontrollably at an event. 

Vocal cord lesions typically occur due to overuse or misuse of the vocal cord, such as screaming, singing, yelling or excessive talking. It may also be caused due to alcohol consumption, smoking, or allergies. Excessive use of your voice when you suffer from a throat infection can also cause vocal cord lesions.

​​Hoarseness or voice changes are the most obvious signs and symptoms of a vocal cord lesion. Other symptoms that could occur include:

  • Loss of voice.

  • Vocal fatigue or feeling of fatigue when speaking.

  • Speaking in multiple tones.

  • Raspy or scratchy voice.

  • General neck pain.

  • Lump in the throat.

  • Frequent coughing.

  • Throat clearing.

  • Voice breaks.

  • Delayed voice initiation.

  • Inability to sing in a high or soft voice.​​

Symptoms of a vocal cord lesion may vary in intensity, but do not disappear on their own. If you experience the above symptoms persistently, without any improvement in symptoms, you must consult an ENT (Eye-Nose-Throat) specialist to seek expert medical advice. 

Our team of trained otolaryngologists (ENT specialists) working for the Eye and ENT Service Line The Aga Khan University Hospital will provide comprehensive treatment and services for all types of vocal cord lesions at all stages. Discuss your symptoms and concerns in complete confidence with your ENT specialist to help reach an accurate diagnosis for your disorder. ​​

​Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​​

​​Diagnosis of vocal cord lesions will begin with your medical history, which will be focused on asking questions about your symptoms and also evaluating your speaking pattern and technique, such as how often do you have to speak due to the nature of your job, whether you need to scream or sing as part of your work and whether you have been using your voice excessively in the recent past. 

The doctor will also assess if other conditions, such as allergies or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) could be causing your disorder. Besides that, your doctor will also ask if you have a history of smoking or alcohol consumption, both of which can put you at risk of developing vocal cord lesions. 

Your doctor will also examine your vocal cords with the help of a special tube-like, lighted instrument to look for signs of lesions in the vocal cords. Your head and neck may also be examined. ​​

​Resting your voice is the most common treatment option which your doctor will propose. Re-evaluation of the vocal cords after resting the voice will help see if this method has been successful. Voice therapy is also useful to help you learn how to use your voice properly in different situations. This therapy is especially effective for singers who need to continue using their voice by nature of their job.

Surgery may be suggested if a large lesion as found on examination. Your ENT surgeon will surgically remove any diseased tissue or lesions with the help of special instruments and LASER. Make sure you always discuss the risks and benefits of surgery in detail with your doctor.

Certain lifestyle changes will also help you recover from vocal cord lesions. Proper vocal hygiene, which means keeping yourself hydrated and avoiding of misuse, and overuse of your voice is necessary for helping this disorder heal. Quitting smoking, restricting alcohol consumption and managing your stress, which can prompt you to misuse your voice, are some measures that you can take to avoid further incidences of this disorder. ​​

​​The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.a​​

​Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage​​

​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.