Vocal Polyps and Nodules Differential Diagnoses

Updated: Oct 26, 2021
  • Author: Candace M Hrelec, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Diagnostic Considerations

Vocal cord cysts have a fluid-filled or semisolid center surrounded by a capsule. Occurring much less frequently than vocal fold nodules (VFNs) and vocal fold polyps (VFPs), two types exist: mucous retention cysts and epidermoid cysts. Cysts are typically not associated with phonotrauma and are unlikely to resolve with voice therapy alone.

Vocal fold cancer (laryngeal cancer) should also be included in the differential if there are worsening symptoms, known risk factors (ie, tobacco use), or suspicious findings on videostroboscopy.

Vocal fold papillomas are small wartlike growths caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Papillomas also present with voice changes but when large can also cause shortness of breath. Treatment of papillomas typically requires surgical removal.