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Reinke’s Edema

Reinke’s edema is a term used to describe vocal fold polyps. Reinke’s edema typically occurs in females with a history of smoking. Other risk factors include acid reflux disease and excessive voice use.

The polyps in Reinke’s edema may be large and may cause profound voice changes. Oftentimes females with Reinke’s edema are mistaken for men due to a deep voice.

Treatment of Reinke’s edema includes control of acid reflux with diet modification and anti-reflux medication. Smoking cessation is paramount for control of this disease process. Stopping smoking will not reverse changes in the vocal folds. However it may stop further polypoid changes from occurring. Traditionally Reinke’s edema was treated with surgery in the operating room. A direct laryngosocopy is performed with a patient asleep. Cuts are made in the vocal fold and the excess tissue is removed.

Minimally invasive surgery is also possible for Reinke’s edema in which the disease is treated in the office using laser. An endoscope is placed to visualize a patients larynx. Laser energy is then applied to a patient’s vocal folds. With time, changes in the vocal fold occur minimizing the size of the vocal folds.

If you have been diagnosed with a Reinke’s edema and would like to lean about these options please contact Dr. Sunil Verma, director of the University Voice and Swallowing Center, at (714) 456-7017 for an appointment.