Central Ohio's only Voice and Swallowing Clinic is at Ohio State.
Physicians who specialize in voice and swallowing disorders at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are fellowship-trained surgeons. These specialists receive training above the level most ENT specialists receive. Half of the fellowship specialists in all of Ohio can be found at Wexner Medical Center.
Our patients range from anyone who’s coughing more than they should be to nationally renowned touring singers with vocal impairment. We see more patients for paradoxical vocal cord motion disorder (PVCMD) – a vocal cord abnormality that mimics asthma – than any other facility in the United States. We’re considered among the world’s experts on PVCMD, partly because our academic affiliation enables us to conduct research that leads to better diagnosis and treatment.
Where your only option elsewhere may be surgery, we often offer various other safe and effective alternatives. For example, we helped develop an in-office injection procedure that has enabled patients with vocal cord paralysis avoid more invasive surgery.
Hoarseness occurs when the vocal cords, located in your throat’s voice box (larynx), become inflamed, swollen or irregular. The swelling that results is what causes hoarseness, a rough and raspy sound to your voice.
Cold and sinus infection are usually to blame for hoarseness. It takes about two weeks for hoarseness to clear up, and it usually does so on its own. A rare and serious cause of hoarseness is cancer of the voice box, which requires much more serious long-term attention and treatment.
Laryngitis inflammation of the voice box (larynx) accompanied by hoarseness or loss of voice is laryngitis. Viral infection from a cold of flu is usually to blame for laryngitis. It may also be caused by:
- Acid reflux
- Bacterial infection
- Chemical or environmental irritants
Laryngoceles are bulges of the air sac in your voice box that can obstruct your airway or create hoarseness. When they bulge outward, a visible lump is seen in the neck. Musicians who play wind or brass instruments have a higher risk of developing laryngoceles.
Aside from some discomfort, annoyance and physical abnormality, laryngoceles can be relatively benign. However, if they should become infected or complicated in another way or in association with another condition, they can be more problematic and may need to be removed surgically.
Your trachea, or windpipe, is one part of your airway system. Airways are pipes that carry oxygen-rich air to your lungs. They also carry carbon dioxide, a waste gas, out of your lungs. When you inhale, air travels from your nose, through your larynx and down your windpipe. The windpipe splits into two bronchi that enter your lungs.
Problems with the trachea include narrowing, inflammation and some inherited conditions. You may need a procedure called a tracheostomy to help you breathe if you have swallowing problems or have conditions that block your airways. You might also need a tracheostomy if you are in critical care and need to be on a breathing machine.
Source: NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Vocal cord cancer
The larynx is a part of the throat, between the base of the tongue and the trachea. The larynx contains the vocal cords. Using tobacco and excessively using alcohol are the greatest risk factors for laryngeal cancer, which affects more than 12,000 people in the United States each year.Learn more
Vocal cord dysfunction/Paradoxical vocal cord motion disorder
Vocal cord dysfunction or paradoxical vocal cord motion disorder (PVCMD) is when your vocal cords have episodes of closing instead of opening as you breathe. This condition makes getting air in and out of your lungs difficult, and mimics asthma.
Breathing techniques, vocal exercises and relaxation methods can help, but surgery may be needed. The specialists at OSU Wexner Medical Center see more patients for PVCMD than any other facility in central Ohio. Because we are an academic medical center, we can conduct research that leads to better diagnosis and treatment, making us experts on PVCMD.
Vocal cord lesions
Vocal cord lesions are noncancerous (benign) growths inside or outside of the vocal cords. They are one of the most common causes of voice problems and can be cysts, nodules or polyps. Lesions that are a result of trauma and located opposite existing vocal cord lesions are called reactive.
Voice rest and other therapy usually are effective in reducing and healing these lesions. Surgery called microlaryngoscopy can effectively treat the condition.
Vocal cord paralysis
Tests and Treatments
During the direct microlaryngoscopy (DML) procedure, a small telescope is inserted through the mouth to examine your throat and larynx. Images of your larynx are magnified with a microscope and projected to enable the surgeon to diagnose and, if necessary, remove vocal cord lesions.
Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallow
Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallow (FEES) is a specialized test that uses a small camera inserted through the nose to the throat to evaluate a swallowing problem and determine the safest diet.
KTP laser treatments
KTP (potassium titanyl phosphate) lasers are usually used in Lasik eye surgery. KTP lasers have been applied to ENT surgical procedures to destroy unwanted tissues or masses (photoablation). The procedure is relatively painless, with patients recovering within weeks.
Swallowing, voice and laryngeal control therapy
Swallowing therapy is performed to help patients maximize their nutrition and provides a safe means of swallowing when they have swallowing dysfunction.
Voice therapy can be used to treat various issues that affect the throat, vocal cords and other parts of the voice box. Exercises are usually engaged to help strengthen the vocal cords, improve breathing and modify voice usage.
Laryngeal control therapy
Laryngeal control therapy (LCT) is specialized therapy for vocal cord dysfunction/paradoxical vocal cord motion disorder. With it, participants learn how to relax the vocal cords and retrain the way they breathe. In a study of 36 subjects who attended at least one LCT session, 25 reported improvement of symptoms (69 percent). Other patients who attended two or more sessions were more likely to experience symptom improvement.
Tracheotomy (or tracheostomy) involves making an incision in the front of the neck to insert a breathing tube into the trachea. The tube bypasses the normal breathing process that occurs through the nose and mouth and allows the breathing to take place through the tube.
Vocal cord injections
Where your only option elsewhere may be surgery, OSU Wexner Medical Center often offers various other safe and effective alternatives, as we do for vocal cord paralysis. By using an in-office/outpatient injection procedure we conducted leading research on, patients with vocal cord paralysis often can avoid other, more invasive surgery.
Vocal cord injection is also used to treat a condition called spasmodic dysphonia, where muscles that control the vocal cords spasm due to overactive signals from the brain. It may also be used to treat paradoxical vocal cord motion disorder (PVCMD) – a vocal cord abnormality that mimics asthma.