Vocal Cord Lesions and All About It

We rely on communication with our voices and live singing during the night of karaoke. Many people may feel a little anxious when our voices don't sound right. Where many problems can lead to voice loss, others are more common. Otolaryngologists in OKC want to discuss vocal cord nodules today.

Vocal Cords

What are vocal cord lesions?

Vocal cord lesions are benign (non-cancerous) growths, including nodules, polyps, and cysts, also known as vocal cord lesions. All of them can cause voice sound issues and can be linked to vocal overuse or cord trauma.

Nodules: Often the result of repeated overuse or misuse of the voice are nodules of the vocal cord, sometimes referred to as vocal nodules, callus growths that develop in the central part of the vocal foils. Under the microscope, vocal cord nodules sometimes seem to be related to abnormal blood vessels like calluses although this condition can occur in both men and women, there is more susceptibility for women aged 20 to 50.

Cysts: The cord cysts are growths and are less common than vocal cord nodules and polyps. They have a sac around a fluid-filled or semi-solid center. The vocal cords have both types of cysts: sebaceous cysts or epidermoids and retention cysts.

Polyps: The vocal cord polyps differ from nodules since they can occur on one or the two vocal cords. They have more blood vessels and appear to be reddish, as they are more vascular than nodules. These growths can vary in size and shape, usually larger than nodules and are like blisters. Polyps can also be due to overuse or misuse of the voice, similar to vocal cord nodule but can also be caused by one single vocal abuse episode.

Causes of the Vocal Cord Lesions

The causes vary according to the type of growth of the vocal cord:

Nodules are caused by repetitive phonotrauma that is overuse or improper use of vocal cords.

Polyps are caused by repetitive phonotrauma or after a single incident.

Cysts get developed when vocal cord glands become clogged.

A boy with vocal cord issue

Phonotrauma involves:

Vocal Abuse: Actions that strain or damage the vocal cords, like excessive talking, coughing, yelling, clearing your throat, inhaling irritants or smoking.

Vocal Misuse: an Inappropriate use of voice, such as high pitch speech or an exaggerated voice muscle tension.

Vocal Overuse: Excessive normal behavior like talking, talking or singing without a break, or whispering in a loud environment for long periods.


  • Breathiness

  • Neck pain

  • Hoarseness

  • The sensation of a lump in the throat

  • A rough or scratchy voice


Depending on the kind of growth, treatment options vary. Otolaryngologists in OKC  start treatment with non-surgical treatments whenever possible. Treatment options include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications

  • Speech therapy for more efficient voice use

  • Rest to relieve inflammation

  • Improve vocal hygiene

  • Behavioral changes such as smoking and stress reduction, avoiding irritants

  • Laser surgery to remove polyps

  • Microsurgery to remove cysts and polyps

For consulting experienced Otolaryngologists in OKC, you call us at Oklahoma Otolaryngology Associates, LLC.

**Disclaimer: The information on this page is not intended to be a doctor's advice, nor does it create any form of patient-doctor relationship.