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Vocal cord granulomas

Patient information A-Z

This leaflet has been written to try and help you understand some of the symptoms you have been experiencing, and to help to answer some of the questions that you may have.

What is a vocal cord granuloma?

A granuloma is a benign growth that occurs on the vocal cords within the voice box. They are often singular but can occur on both vocal cords at the same time.

What are the symptoms of a vocal cord granuloma?

The primary symptom is usually a change in voice quality. The voice may become hoarse, feel effortful to use and will normally deteriorate with use. You may also feel a sensation of something in your throat or feel a need to clear your throat frequently. On some occasions you may find it more difficult to breathe if the granuloma is large or if it occurs on both vocal cords at the same time.

How will my diagnosis be confirmed?

You will be seen by a member of the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) team who will assess you and decide what is causing your voice problem.

What causes a vocal cord granuloma?

  • Excessive voice use or strain when using the voice can cause a granuloma to occur.
  • Acid reflux (where acid comes up from the stomach and tips into the voice box) can cause severe irritation and if untreated may over time cause a granuloma.
  • Granulomas may also occur in people who have had to have a breathing tube inserted during or after surgery.

What treatment is available for vocal cord granulomas?

If the granuloma has been caused by excessive voice use, voice strain or the placement of a breathing tube, the speech and language therapist will work with you to improve this. They may give you voice exercises and other advice to follow.

If acid reflux has contributed to the development of the granuloma then your GP or ENT doctor will be able to advise you on how to treat this more effectively.

If the granuloma is large or interferes with your breathing then the ENT doctors may prefer to remove it surgically. You will be referred to speech and language therapy afterwards to try and reduce the chances of it occurring again.

What can I do to help my symptoms?

Following any exercises and advice given by the ENT team or your speech and language therapist is very important if you want to help your symptoms improve.

Also try to:

  • Avoid overusing your voice, shouting, whispering, excessive use of the telephone or talking over background noise
  • Drink plenty of fluid and try to keep your intake of caffeinated drinks to a minimum.
  • Try to stop or cut down smoking and keep alcohol intake to a minimum or stop drinking altogether
  • Avoid dry, smoky or dusty atmospheres

If you have any other questions about vocal cord granulomas please call your speech and language therapist on 01223 216200 or doctor who will be happy to help.

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Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151