Department of Otolaryngology

Vocal Cord Scarring

Vocal cord scarring means that scar tissue has formed on the layer of the vocal cord that vibrates. Vibration of the vocal cord gives us our voice. The condition is difficult to diagnose and treat. The scarring can be mild or severe, and can occur in an isolated area, or on the entire vocal cord.

Vocal cord scarring risk factors and causes

Anyone is at risk of vocal cord scarring.

Vocal cord scarring causes

The scarring can have a variety of causes. These can include:

  • Overusing the voice
  • Aging
  • Trauma to the vocal folds from voice use
  • Scar tissue can also form after surgery.
  • Other conditions, such as acid reflux, make the scarring worse.

Vocal cord scarring complications

Scar tissue makes the vocal cord more rigid. Normal vibration that produces the speaking or singing voice is hindered.

Vocal cord scarring symptoms and diagnosis

Scar tissue on the vocal cords will change your voice, and the ability to speak.

Symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty speaking or singing
  • Hoarseness or breathiness
  • Rough voice
  • Voice tires easily

Diagnosing vocal cord scarring is difficult. An ear, nose and throat doctor will examine the back of the throat. A stroboscopy is used to light and magnify the view of the voice box.

Vocal cord scar treatment

Voice therapy with a qualified professional can help improve the voice by training you to use the voice correctly. Therapy also helps prevent the formation of new scars.

Surgery can help eliminate some, but not all, of the voice problems associated with vocal cord scarring.

Make an appointment at the UPMC Voice Center

To make an appointment for relief from vocal cord scarring, contact the UPMC Voice Center at 412-232-SING (7464).