• Treating Voice Disorders

    At Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, we devise a treatment plan appropriate to each patient's special needs. In some cases, a team approach may include–in addition to the otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist)–a speech pathologist, neurologist, psychologist, pulmonologist, primary care physician or pediatrician.

    The type of treatment depends on the specific vocal condition and the patient's other medical requirements. In all cases, however, we offer the latest proven therapies and technologies.

    Most patients will be asked to go for a speech therapy evaluation and follow a treatment program before undergoing a surgical procedure, because properly directed vocal exercises can help or heal many patients' voice problems. Depending on the underlying cause of the voice problem, therapy may be used to strengthen the muscles used to produce the voice, or to relax the structures and muscles that interfere with proper voicing.

    Voice therapy can help patients learn to use their voices in a more efficient way. Computerized imaging and acoustic analysis of the patient's vocal intensity, pitch and quality are used both as diagnostic measures and as biofeedback during treatment. The instrumentation actually allows patients to visualize the components of the voice, which often facilitates success.

    Although many patients will improve or be cured by speech therapy and other non-surgical interventions, surgery is occasionally required to correct voice problems. For example, newer surgical treatments for vocal fold paralysis include hydroxyapatite injections and permanent implants to help the vocal folds return to a normal position. Many patients can receive vocal fold injections in our outpatient clinic, with only minimal discomfort. These injections are used to treat conditions such as glottic insufficiency, vocal fold paralysis and presbyphonia simply and easily.

    Patients with vocal fold masses generally need to go to the operating room for their surgeries. During surgery, the vocal folds are magnified using a microscope, and a variety of equipment–including specialized knives, scissors, lasers and microdebriders–is used to remove the lesion. 
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