Essentially, a granuloma is a benign (non-cancerous) mass that grows due to inflammation in the body. A granuloma that forms on the back of the larynx (voice box) is referred to as a laryngeal granuloma.
What Causes Laryngeal Granulomas?
Laryngeal granulomas form as a way for the body to protect itself when the lining on the cartilage at the back of the larynx is damaged, leaving the larynx exposed. This damage can result from a number of factors, which include:
- Traumatic intubation, or the insertion of a breathing tube (most commonly through the trachea)
- Phonotrauma, or abusive use of the voice, such as forceful singing, coughing and shouting
- The reflux of stomach acid into the larynx (laryngopharyngeal reflux)
What Symptoms Are Associated With Laryngeal Granulomas?
Patients suffering from a granuloma on the vocal cords generally experience:
- Severe hoarseness
- Change in voice pitch
- Discomfort or pain in the throat
- Fatigued voice
How Are Laryngeal Granulomas Diagnosed?
Someone with a granuloma on his or her larynx may feel discomfort when rubbing the area of the neck near the larynx.
The presence of a granuloma can be confirmed by a laryngologist who may perform:
- Laryngoscopy – An endoscopy of the larynx
- Videolaryngostroboscopy – A procedure in which the high-speed flashes of a stroboscope are used to observe movement in the vocal folds
- Electromyography – A test that uses nerve stimulation to evaluate muscle response
How is Laryngeal Granuloma Treated?
At Tampa General Hospital, our team of laryngologists take a patient-first approach in treating vocal cord granulomas. Effective treatment for the condition begins with accurate diagnosis. Depending on the cause of your laryngeal granuloma, our medical professionals may recommend using the following conservative, non-surgical treatment methods:
- Voice therapy
- Use of inhaled corticosteroids
- Use of proton pump inhibitors (PPI)
- Lifestyle changes that prevent reflux
In situations when the diagnosis of a laryngeal granuloma is made late, when the inflamed mass is so large that it may block the airway or when a once-treated granuloma has reappeared, surgery is often warranted.