We use our voices every day, from ordering our morning coffee at Stack’s Espresso Bar to enjoying quality time with our family at the dinner table.
Certain surgeries, such as a thyroidectomy or other neck or spine surgeries, run the risk of injuring the vocal cords. This can lead to vocal cord paralysis which causes you to have a weakened and breathy voice. While your voice will likely eventually return to normal, this can sometimes take up to a year.
If this has happened to you, a vocal cord injection may help to improve your voice sooner.
What Is a Vocal Cord Injection?
A vocal cord injection is a procedure where a filling agent is injected to augment your vocal cord. In addition to voice paralysis, it can also be used in cases of voice changes due to aging or for scarred vocal cords.
Research has shown that vocal cord injections are an effective treatment to help improve voice quality. One study of patients with vocal fold atrophy and or paresis found that 76% experienced at least a partial improvement in their voice after receiving an injection.
Before the Procedure
If you and your doctor decide that a vocal cord injection is right for you, you’ll have to take several steps to prepare before your surgery. This includes:
- If you are on blood thinners, contact your primary care provider about when to stop and restart these medications prior to your surgery.
- Avoid taking OTC medications like Aspirin or ibuprofen, Vitamin E supplements, and other herbal supplements as these may increase your risk of bleeding.
- Do not eat or drink anything (including water or coffee) three hours before the procedure.
During the Procedure
Typically, the procedure is done through your mouth. Your doctor will numb the back of your mouth with a lidocaine spray to suppress the gag reflex. They will drip additional numbing medication onto your vocal cords, which may feel a little odd, but will not hurt. They will then inject you with the augmentation material.
Recovery After Vocal Cord Injection
- Do not drink or eat for one hour as the numbing agent wears off. After an hour you can resume your normal diet.
- Do not smoke or use any blood thinning medication. Take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for any pain needs.
- Drink plenty of liquids
- Blood-tinged mucus is normal and nothing to worry about. Try to avoid coughing or clearing your throat as much as possible.
- Avoid speaking for 2-3 days to let your vocal cords heal.
- Do not whisper as it strains your voice.
- Know that you may experience hoarseness for a little while after the surgery. This is normal and will eventually go away.
To learn more about vocal cord injections or to schedule an appointment, call Albany ENT & Allergy Services today.