Vocal Fold Cyst

Vocal fold cysts are noncancerous fluid-filled sacs that can form anywhere on or within the vocal folds. These cysts can cause the vocal folds to become stiff, leading to changes in the sound of your voice.


What Causes Vocal Fold Cysts?

Vocal fold cysts are caused by voice strain or a blockage in the mucus glands within the folds. Those who are heavy voice users or use their voices professionally (performers, teachers, etc.) are at an increased risk of developing cysts.

Additional risks include:

  • Upper respiratory infections.
  • Exposure to airborne irritants.
  • Chronic irritation from gastric reflux.

Symptoms of Vocal Fold Cysts

Cysts may weigh down the vocal folds and increase the stiffness of the fold tissue. This can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Lowered speaking pitch.
  • Throat pain or discomfort.
  • Voice fatigue.

How Are Vocal Fold Cysts Diagnosed and Treated?

In order to diagnose your vocal fold cysts, your ENT physician will perform the following:

  • A medical and voice history report.
  • A physical examination of the head and neck.
  • An endoscopic examination of the vocal folds.

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) may also be called in to complete a voice evaluation.

Once diagnosed, your doctor will review your treatment options.

Voice Therapy

This noninvasive approach requires you to work with a speech-language pathologist to change the way you use your voice. You will learn proper voice hygiene in order to prevent additional vocal abuse as well as exercises to strengthen your vocal folds.


Larger or older cysts may require surgery. General anesthesia will be administered and a small incision is made in the vocal fold. The fluid-filled cyst is then separated from the surrounding tissue and removed. You will then be placed on voice rest to give your vocal fold tissue time to heal.


Irritants such as extra-esophageal reflux or allergies may contribute to the formation of a vocal fold cyst. Medications to treat these conditions may be prescribed, as they can help alleviate the symptoms from vocal fold cysts. Patients should follow all instructions related to medications carefully and consistently.

Your ENT physician may option for a combined modality approach. This involves a combination of therapy, surgery and medications.


Call Topeka ENT at 785-233-0500 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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