Hoarseness of voice can be caused by a large number of conditions. Most commonly viruses and infections which get better. If hoarseness persists you need to be referred to an Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgeon in order to make a diagnosis and treat it. Most causes are benign however cancers can occur especially in people who smoke or drink excessive amounts of alcohol.
The voice box is technically known as your larynx. It contains the vocal cords and is protected inside the laryngeal cartilages. Laryngeal disorders include:
- vocal process granulomas
- saccular cysts
- poor vocal habit/vocal misuse
- benign laryngeal tumours
Malignant laryngeal tumours (cancers) Laryngeal cancers are divided into cancers of the supraglottis (above the vocal cords), glottis (the vocal cords) and subglottis (immediately below the vocal cords). All of these are types of Head and Neck Cancer (link to Head and Neck Cancer page).
Examination and Treatment
In my practice I use a special flexible telescope to examine your throat and larynx. The telescope contains a video camera which records to a computer. I use it to perform a direct video nasolaryngoscopy. This is also sometimes called a flexible nasolaryngoscopy, a flexible laryngoscopy or a flexible nasendoscopy.
Direct video nasolaryngoscopy is a minor procedure which gives me a magnified, high definition, live action view of your larynx, throat and nose. The video camera is linked to a screen and the examination is recorded so we can look at the images together. All Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgeons perform nasolaryngoscopies to examine patients but my practice is one of only a handful in Australia which uses video nasolaryngoscopy.
The great advantage of videoscopes over standard flexible fibreoptic telescopes is that they provide a superior (4K) magnified image on a wide screen. The videos I record during your consultations are saved to your medical record used to track your progress following treatment. I originally used fibreoptic telescopes in my practice but I changed over to video in 2013. This was because I recognised that the superior image offered by video significantly improves my ability to identify pre-cancerous and cancerous changes in the lining of the throat and voicebox.