A vocal polyp is a specific bump or lesion on the vocal fold resulting from phono-trauma. Polyps probably form on the vocal fold as a result of severe shearing forces causing small blood vessels to rupture. Unlike in other areas of the body, vocal fold polyps are not precancerous or cancerous. Polyps generally cause painless hoarseness that results in a rough voice quality. Sometimes, depending on the size and location of the polyp, they may cause a loss of a particular portion of a person’s vocal range or even breaks in the voice at certain pitches. They occasionally cause throat clearing or the sensation that something is present on the vocal fold. Vocal polyps are usually single bumps on the vocal fold that may be very small and difficult to visualize or large irregular masses associated with surrounding hemorrhage and scar.
Vocal polyps are sometimes treated with voice rest. This can reduce the surrounding swelling and improve the voice considerably but rarely makes the vocal polyp disappear. Voice therapy is almost always used as an initial step since polyps are thought to occur because of phono-trauma. Some early polyps appear to be responsive to voice therapy alone. Many times, microscopic laryngeal surgery is also needed to completely remove the polyp and restore a normal voice. Polyps usually do not recur after voice therapy and micro-laryngeal surgery.