Vocal cord nodules are callouses located just under the skin of the vocal cord. They are the vocal trauma and physical stress to the vocal cords.
What Are the Symptoms of Vocal Cord Nodules?
Although normally painless, vocal cord nodules can cause irregularities in vocal fold vibration and closure, which can cause hoarseness. The condition may improve with voice rest but will quickly worsen after extensive voice use, a cold, or a sore throat.
Diagnosing Vocal Fold Nodules
Nodules are diagnosed during laryngoscopy and stroboscopy, a procedure performed in the office to closely examine the vocal cords with the patient awake. Nodules have a characteristic size and appearance, and limit vibration of the vocal cords.
How Are Vocal Cord Nodules Treated?
The primary treatment for vocal cord nodules is voice therapy. The goal of voice therapy is to modify the vocal habits causing the trauma to the vocal folds. With time, the nodules will eventually become softer and more pliable resulting in improved voice quality. Despite the common misconception that vocal fold nodules can end the career of a performing artist, the condition can be successfully managed with discipline and attention to using good vocal technique.
Since vocal cord nodules are typically the result of behavioral factors, surgery may not be an effective treatment. In rare cases, microlaryngoscopic surgery may be used to remove some of the hardened tissue caused by the damage. This is usually only considered in cases where voice therapy has been unsuccessful.