Throat & Voice Disorders

The physicians at Potomac Otolaryngology are expertly trained in evaluating and diagnosing voice and swallowing disorders.

Our Services

  • Tonsillectomy
  • Vocal Cord Microsurgery for:
  • Cysts
  • Nodules
  • Polyps
  • Laser Surgery for Papilloma
  • Vocal Cord Augmentation
  • Endoscopic Surgery for Swallowing Disorders

Conditions We Treat

  • Tonsillitis and Treaments
  • Chronic Cough
  • Lump in Throat
  • Laryngopharyngeal Reflux
  • Hoarseness
  • Swallowing Disorders
  • Vocal Cord Paralysis
  • Zenker’s Diverticulum
  • Papilloma

What is the Larynx?

It is important to understand the anatomy and function of the voice box or “larynx” (pronounced LAIR- INKS) in order to understand how disorders can affect its function. The larynx is important in regards to 3 important things that we do: Breathing, Talking, and Eating.

When we breathe, the vocal cords normally open. When we talk (phonate), the vocal cords come together and vibrate as air from the lungs is exhaled and pushed passed the vocal cords. Just like strings on a violin, pitch is altered by changing the amount of tension placed on the vocal cords. When we swallow, the vocal cords also close and the airway is partially protected by the epiglottis so that we don’t choke on what we eat.

Evaluation of the larynx and throat

There are many disorders that can disrupt the function of the larynx and cause problems with breathing, eating, and talking. Your throat can be evaluated in the office with a flexible fiberoptic endoscope. This is done by decongesting the nose with Afrin, followed by numbing the nose and throat with an anesthetic. The flexible fiberoptic endoscope is introduced into the nose and passed into the back of the nasal cavity and then down into the throat. Different areas of the throat and voice box can be assessed with this procedure.

Evaluation of the voice

If pathology is identified on fiberoptic endoscopy that is impacting the voice, videostroboscopy can be done to further evaluate the voice and to look for subtle masses and weaknesses of the vocal folds. The back of the throat is numbed similarly to flexible endoscopy. A rigid videostroboscope is introduced through the mouth while your tongue is gentle held forward. A high resolution camera then takes video as you are vocalizing. A strobe light is timed to the frequency of the sound so that the vocal fold movement will appear in slow motion and abnormalities may be identified.

What kind of disorders can be identified by these procedures?

Benign and malignant tumors of the throat and voice box can impair the normal vibration of the vocal cords. There may be weakness or paralysis to muscles of the voice box. There can also be inflammation of the voice box due to postnasal drip and allergies, acid reflux, and infections of the throat.

If you have concerns regarding your throat and voice, call today for an evaluation with the physicians at Potomac Otolaryngology at 703-499-8787