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Vocal Cord Injection

Your vocal cord injection will be performed at the University Voice and Swallowing Center, located on the UC Irvine Medical Center Campus in Pavillion II. Please bring this handout with you on the day of the procedure.

A vocal cord injection is a procedure in which a filling agent is injected into your vocal cord to augment your vocal cord. Reasons for having this procedure performed are for vocal cord paralysis or immobility, voice changes due to aging, and vocal cord scar.

Before the procedure:

Do not take aspirin or medicines that contain aspirin, vitamin E, multivitamins, herbal medications or anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Naproxen) for 10 days before the injection. These medicines can cause bleeding. Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) as needed for pain.

If you are using Coumadin, Plavix, Warfarin, Lovenox, or other medicines that thin your blood, please contact your primary doctor. You will need to discuss when to stop and restart these medicines. Most of the time we recommend you stop 7 days before the treatment. However, this will need to be confirmed with your primary doctor to ensure your safety.

Please do not eat or drink at all for 3 hours before the injection, including water or coffee. If you need to take medicine, take it with a small sip of water. Be sure to tell the nurse or doctor if you have any allergies to Lidocaine or other medicines ending with "caine".

During the procedure:

The injection is done in one of two ways. The most common way is through your mouth. The doctor will numb the back of your mouth with a lidocaine spray, which controls the gag reflex. Numbing medication will be dripped onto your vocal cords which may cause a funny feeling in the back of the throat. Then the injection will occur and the material will be placed.

Another way is through the skin of the neck. A small camera will be placed in the nose and used to look at the voice box. Numbing medication is placed on the skin on is then dripped onto your vocal cords. A thin needle is placed through the neck to place the material.

After the procedure:

  • Do not eat or drink for at least 1 hour after the procedure. This will give the numbing medicine time to wear off. During this time your swallow reflex will return to normal. You can resume your regular diet after one hour.
  • You can expect blood-tinged mucous. This is normal. Avoid coughing or clearing of the throat. Doing this may irritate the tissue that has been injected.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking will increase throat irritation and secretions.

Pain Relief

You may have throat pain after the numbing medicine wears off. If you need medicine for pain relief, use acetaminophen (Tylenol®) as needed. Follow the directions on the bottle.

Do not use products that contain aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Naproxen). They may increase bleeding. If you do have a sore throat, drink plenty of liquids. Do not gargle.

If you were taking Coumadin, Plavix, or other medicines to thin your blood before the procedure, you may start taking these medicines in 1 day.

Voice Activity

For 2-3 days we ask that you not speak to allow your vocal cord to heal.

You may be hoarse and your voice may be worse for a while. This is normal and goes away with time. Do not whisper. It strains your voice.

When to Call the Doctor

If you are having shortness of breath or cannot breathe please report to the Emergency Room immediately.

Call the doctor at 714.456.7017 for problems including:

  • Severe trouble swallowing.
  • Coughing up large blood clots.
  • A fever greater that 101.5ºF (taken by mouth).
  • Any feeling that you are not getting better like you should.
  • Pain which doesn’t go away with medicine.