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Excision of Vocal Cord Polyps

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 7, 2024.

What do I need to know about an excision of vocal cord polyps?

This surgery is done to remove one or more polyps on your vocal cords.

How do I prepare for this surgery?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. Your provider will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. You may be asked to stop taking blood thinners before surgery. If you smoke, your healthcare provider will recommend that you quit smoking. You may be given an antibiotic through your IV to help prevent a bacterial infection.

What will happen during this surgery?

You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given local anesthesia to numb the surgery area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not feel any pain. You may sit in an exam chair or lie down with your neck flexed backward. Your provider will insert a scope that will allow your vocal cords to be seen clearly. Tools such as forceps or scissors will be used to remove one or more polyps.

What should I expect after this surgery?

You will need to have strict voice rest for about up to 2 weeks. Voice rest includes no talking, whispering, whistling, straining, coughing, or sneezing. You will need to communicate using another method such as a chalkboard or pad and pencil. After the period of strict voice rest, you may need to continue to limit the use of your voice. You will slowly increase the use of your voice over time. If you smoke, you should quit smoking or at least not smoke while you heal.

What are the risks of this surgery?

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Your teeth may be injured when the tools are placed through your mouth to reach your vocal cords. The joint between your temporal bone and your mandible (jawbone) or the nerve on the side of your tongue may be injured. Injury to this nerve can cause temporary tongue numbness or change in the sensation of taste. Even with surgery, your voice may not improve, or it could get worse.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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