What is a vocal cord or voice examination?

A vocal cord or voice examination is a comprehensive evaluation used to assess the health and function of the voice box (larynx) and vocal cords. This exam can diagnose a wide range of voice disorders and is critical for anyone experiencing voice issues. It involves a series of assessments, including visual inspection, voice quality evaluation, and imaging techniques.

What is the procedure?

The procedure typically involves a non-invasive technique called laryngoscopy, where a small, flexible tube with a camera, known as a laryngoscope, is used to view the throat and vocal cords. The patient may be asked to speak or make sounds to assess vocal cord movement. Advanced techniques, such as stroboscopy, may be used to evaluate the vibration of the vocal cords in slow motion, providing detailed insight into their function.

Who is a candidate for this evaluation?

Candidates for vocal cord and voice evaluations are individuals experiencing symptoms such as hoarseness, persistent cough, difficulty speaking, voice fatigue, pain when speaking, or loss of voice. Professional voice users, like singers, teachers, and public speakers, often undergo these examinations as part of their vocal health maintenance.

Which symptoms warrant a vocal cord or voice exam?

Symptoms prompting this examination include:

  • Changes in voice pitch or quality
  • Hoarseness lasting longer than two weeks
  • Voice fatigue or strain
  • Pain or discomfort when speaking
  • Breathing difficulties associated with voice use
  • Loss of vocal range for singers
  • Changes in voice affecting public speakers, teachers, etc.
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What is the examination experience?

At Louisiana ENT, we prioritize comfort and clarity. During the examination, patients are made as comfortable as possible. A topical anesthetic may be used to ease any discomfort. The procedure is explained in detail before and during the exam, ensuring patients are informed and at ease. The process is quick, typically taking no more than a few minutes.

What can vocal cord or voice examination identify?

This examination can identify a range of conditions, including:

  • Nodules, polyps, or cysts on the vocal cords: Nodules are small, callous-like growths that develop on the vocal cords from repetitive overuse or strain. Polyps are similar but usually larger and may occur on one vocal cord. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can cause voice changes due to their size and location.
  • Vocal cord paralysis or weakness: This condition is characterized by the inability of one or both vocal cords to move appropriately, affecting voice quality, volume, and the ability to swallow. Paralysis may result from nerve damage, while weakness often stems from muscle atrophy or neurological disorders.
  • Laryngitis or inflammation: Laryngitis is the swelling of the vocal cords caused by irritation, infection, or overuse. It typically results in a hoarse voice or the temporary loss of voice, as the inflamed cords cannot vibrate normally.
  • Precancerous lesions or laryngeal cancer: Precancerous lesions are abnormal cell growths on the vocal cords that could potentially develop into cancer. Laryngeal cancer refers to malignant tumors in the larynx that can disrupt voice function and may require immediate intervention.
  • Functional voice disorders, such as muscle tension dysphonia: These disorders involve improper functioning of the voice without structural abnormalities. Muscle tension dysphonia, for instance, occurs when there's excessive muscle activity, leading to altered voice quality, fatigue, and sometimes pain.
  • Neurological conditions affecting voice, like spasmodic dysphonia: These are disorders where nerve signals to the larynx are disrupted. Spasmodic dysphonia causes involuntary spasms in the vocal cords, leading to a tight, strained, or strangled quality of voice that can severely affect speech.

Why choose us?

Choosing Louisiana ENT for your vocal cord and voice examination means opting for a leader in ENT services with over 45 years of dedicated service. 

Our board-certified, fellowship-trained physicians utilize the latest technology for diagnosis and treatment. We offer a patient-centered approach, where understanding and treating your unique condition is our top priority. With Louisiana ENT Specialists, you benefit from a team that's committed to restoring and preserving your vocal health so you can continue to share your voice with the world.

With 6 convenient locations around the Louisiana area, we're never far away.

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