Vocal polyp

A general and somewhat imprecise term used to describe or “name” a swelling originating in the vocal fold [intlink id=”356″ type=”post”]mucosa[/intlink]. Such a mass is commonly unilateral, benign, and the result, at least in part, of vibratory trauma. A polyp may be referred to as [intlink id=”209″ type=”post”]hemorrhagic[/intlink], [intlink id=”419″ type=”post”]pedunculated[/intlink], [intlink id=”509″ type=”post”]smoking-related[/intlink], and so forth. A vocal polyp interferes with the voice’s clarity and other capabilities by interfering with accurate approximation of the folds during [intlink id=”427″ type=”post”]phonation[/intlink]. A polyp may also add mass to the vocal fold, thereby dropping the pitch range available to the voice.

Vocal nodules

Small swellings or elevations found at the junction of the middle and anterior thirds of the vocal fold. They form in response to vibratory trauma, as when an individual abuses or overuses the voice. Some resolve with rest and voice therapy alone; others are proven to be irreversible over time and may raise the option of vocal fold microsurgery.

Vocal fold paralysis, unilateral

Neurogenic inability of one vocal fold to move. Unilateral paralysis is associated with weak voice of a degree that can vary between individuals. Symptoms may include one or more of the following: weak, [intlink id=”33″ type=”post”]air-wasting dysphonia[/intlink], inability to be heard in noisy locations, a tendency of the voice to be somewhat stronger in the morning but to “fade” with use, and a tendency to cough when drinking [intlink id=”572″ type=”post”]thin liquids[/intlink].

Vocal fold paralysis, bilateral

A neurological disorder in which the nerve supply to both vocal folds is not working. This may be as the result of injury through external trauma, thyroid surgery, or blunt or penetrating trauma to the neck. Sometimes vocal fold immobility due to scarring, for instance from an [intlink id=”166″ type=”post”]endotracheal tube[/intlink], is mistaken for vocal fold paralysis, though the distinction is usually easy to determine, provided that an appropriately intense and directed workup is done.

Vocal fold dysfunction (VFD), aka vocal cord dysfunction (VCD)

A [intlink id=”373″ type=”post”]nonorganic[/intlink] laryngeal disorder that manifests as breathing difficulty. Typically the individual with this disorder has failed to respond appropriately to asthma and other medicines. He or she continues to make noises that are primarily or exclusively inspiratory, in contrast to asthma. Not infrequently, individuals with VFD are treated for years as having asthma before the diagnosis of VFD is finally made.

Vocal fold bowing

A descriptive term referring to the appearance of vocal folds that are somewhat atrophied, often with some concomitant flaccidity. When the individual phonates, or puts the vocal folds together to produce voice, instead of the [intlink id=”639″ type=”post”]vocal folds[/intlink] matching in a straight line with a very small gap between them, a long, wider elliptical opening is seen between them. Correlates with a voice that tends to fade with use, is fuzzy and soft-edged, and sometimes is a little higher in pitch than normal.

Stripping (of vocal fold(s))

An older term in the lexicon of laryngology, now passing out of use. The idea of stripping is to grasp the mucosa superficially, and then to “peel” it, along with whatever pathology might be present. The thought was that the mucosa would re-grow and be more normal. With more modern concepts of the crucial importance of the mucosa and particularly the need for it to be loosely attached to underlying layers of the folds, the practice of stripping has been discredited in favor of more precise removal of otherwise irreversible lesions.

Spasmodic dysphonia

A benign neurological voice disorder caused by [intlink id=”267″ type=”post”]laryngeal dystonia[/intlink]. Abductory SD interferes with smooth flow of the voice by choking off the sound of the voice. During running speech, [intlink id=”14″ type=”post”]abductory SD[/intlink], by contrast, causes the voice to momentarily drop off to a whisper. Also called [intlink id=”249″ type=”post”]intermittent whisper phonation[/intlink]. Comprises about 10% of cases of [intlink id=”512″ type=”post”]spasmodic dysphonia[/intlink].

Sensory neuropathic cough*

A peculiar kind of coughing of unknown cause, but thought to be neurogenic. An individual attack of coughing is typically though not always triggered by an abrupt, intense, and unexplained tickle low in the neck. In the usual scenario, coughing attacks may vary in severity, but at least some percentage of them is of the dramatic sort. Individuals may have been misdiagnosed for years with cough-variant asthma or [intlink id=”21″ type=”post”]acid reflux[/intlink].