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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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November 2002

Q. About 5 weeks ago, I had an emergency appendectomy. After the surgery and ever since, my voice has been hoarse. My surgeon spoke to the anesthesiologist for the surgery. This doctor told me that he had a difficult time "tubing" me and that I should go to an ENT, which I did. The ENT found a polyp on my vocal chord. Could an injury to it during this "tubing" make this sort of damage? I recently had a hernia repair and after that surgery everything was fine. The other times I had general anaesthesia I was fine as well. Your comments?

A. A polyp is a small round growth. Such a growth can occur on the vocal cords due to trauma or irritation. For example, they are common in people who use their voice a lot or excessively, such as a professional singer, and can also develop in smokers.

The most common symptom to develop from a polyp would be hoarseness. The diagnosis is made by a direct exam of the area as you have done. Sometimes a biopsy is taken, a small sample of the tissue, that is then studied in the lab to determine the exact type of cells that are present, especially to look for cancer cells. If the tissue is benign, and the growth is due to irritation, resting the voice and other measures are recommended.



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