Laryngeal papillomas are lesions of the vocal folds caused by a virus. The papilloma virus is usually transmitted from person to person by intimate contact. It is known that not everyone who comes in to contact with the virus will form papillomas. The formation of papillomas probably involves a complex interaction between the virus and the host immune system. It is not well understood why or when people form papillomas of the larynx. Voice use patterns are not likely associated with papilloma formation.
Laryngeal papilloma formation usually causes painless hoarseness that may be mild or severe. Papilloma usually has a characteristic appearance when using high resolution scopes or cameras to visualize the vocal folds.
Microscopic laryngeal surgery utilizing a laser is the main treatment for laryngeal papillomas. Laryngeal papillomas are usually recurrent and there is no reliable cure. For this reason surgery often needs to be repeated in order to manage the regrowth of these lesions. Recurrent laryngeal papillomas usually require multiple surgeries and occasionally other medicines are used during surgery to try to slow the growth or stop recurrences. Rarely, laryngeal papillomas become aggressive locally or spread to other areas including the wind pipe, bronchial tubes, or other areas of the airway.