Injection laryngoplasty is a treatment for vocal cord paralysis. Paralysis of the vocal cord usually results in a weakening and thinning of the vocal cord muscle and the laryngoplasty injection is designed to add bulk to the affected vocal cord, moving it closer to its functional partner. Once the two vocal cords make contact again and work in collaboration, the patient’s speech, swallowing and coughing should become easier and more efficient. During an injection laryngoplasty, the otolaryngologist injects a filler substance, like body fat or collagen, directly through the skin into the vocal cord.
Vocal cord paralysis is a common condition involving a malfunction in one or both of the vocal cords. It occurs when the nerve impulses to the larynx, or voice box, are interrupted by injury, inflammation, a tumor, a viral infection or a neurological disorder.
Many serious symptoms can result from vocal cord paralysis since the vocal cords not only produce sound, but act as partial barriers to prevent saliva, food and drink from entering the trachea. Patients with vocal cord paralysis may experience difficulty with hoarseness, swallowing, coughing, noisy breathing and shortness of breath. Left untreated, vocal cord paralysis may interfere with breathing or swallowing to the extent that the condition becomes life-threatening.
Voice therapy is often the first method used to treat vocal cord paralysis, but it alone is not often sufficient to resolve the problem. Laryngoplasty injection is a very effective method of treatment, used primarily when the disorder is presumed to be temporary and is unilateral, meaning that only one of the vocal cords is affected. In such cases, the injection may be all that is required to reposition the damaged vocal cord until it heals. If both vocal cords are affected or the problem persists, however, other procedures may be performed to provide more permanent resolution, such as
- Structural implants
- Repositioning the vocal cord surgically
- Reinnervation, or replacing the damaged nerve
- Tracheotomy, in severe cases
Sometimes one of these procedures may be performed concurrently with the injection laryngoplasty.