Vocal cord nodule

by Jason Wasserman MD PhD FRCPC
January 19, 2024

A vocal cord nodule (also known as a vocal cord polyp) is a non-cancerous growth that develops in a part of the larynx called the vocal cords. Most nodules are caused by an injury that damages the vocal cords. Excessive shouting, recent surgery, and prior infection of the larynx are common causes.

anatomy head and neck

What are the symptoms of a vocal cord nodule?

The vocal cords are important for producing sound when we talk and a vocal cord nodule can interfere with the normal movement of the vocal cords. For this reason, the most common symptoms are hoarseness or voice changes.

How is this diagnosis made?

The diagnosis is usually made after part or all of the nodule is surgically removed in a procedure called a biopsy or excision. The tissue is then sent to a pathologist who examines it under the microscope.

Microscopic features

When examined under the microscope, the nodule is usually round or finger-like in shape. The surface of the tissue is covered by specialized squamous cells that are normally found in the vocal cords. The squamous cells may be described as reactive. The deeper tissue is called the stroma and it normally shows a variety of degenerative changes that may include hemorrhage (bleeding), myxoid tissue, and edema (increased fluid). Small and medium-sized blood vessels may also be seen. All of these changes are normal in a vocal cord nodule.

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