Polypoid Degeneration

Description. Despite the similarity in their names, “polypoid degeneration”, also called Reinke’s edema, looks a bit different from polyps. Whereas polyps are distinct lesions that usually form at the middle of one or both vocal folds, polypoid degeneration involves irregular swelling and “ballooning” along the whole length of both vocal folds. A tale-tell symptom is extremely low speaking pitch, especially in women.

Causes. Often, polypoid degeneration is seen in persons who have also been exposed to irritants such smoke, chemicals, or gastric reflux. Heavy alcohol use may increase the likelihood of this condition.

Treatment. It depends on the patient’s needs, and the severity of the lesions. If the swelling is so large that it starts to obstruct the airway, surgery is indicate. If, instead, the swelling is slight, then voice therapy is usually used as a first approach. Therapy is often successful at reducing the swelling and improving symptoms.