With Adele singing at the Grammy awards this weekend, news reports have resurfaced the singer’s laser vocal cord surgery. While she did not have her treatment at Emory, Emory’s Voice Center is one of only 12 in the nation and the only one in the Southeast that offers laser surgery for the treatment of laryngeal (voice box) conditions. Specifically the potassium titanyl phosphate (or KTP) laser is used to avoid damaging the delicate tissues of the vocal folds during surgery. Initially it was developed to treat port-wine stains caused by broken blood vessels, but it has since received FDA approval as a treatment for vocal disorders, including abnormal blood vessels, such as varices and ectasias, which often plague singers. Most recently, it is being used as a treatment for larynx cancer in combination with anti-cancer therapies such as radiation and chemotherapy.
“The laser basically works by heating and shutting down the abnormal blood vessel(s) or those that feed a lesion,” says Emory otolaryngologist Adam Klein.
According to Klein, Laser Therapy is ideal for patients with recurring conditions—such as papilloma, dysplasia, or rebleeding blood vessels—because it does less damage to surrounding tissue and can be performed as an outpatient procedure. The procedure allows patients to be treated without the risk of radiation or damage to the underlying tissue, which better preserve the natural voice. The treatment can be done under general or local anesthesia, and poses minimal risk of damage to vocal cord tissue. And it’s not just for singers. Watch this video to hear about Darryl’s experience with laser therapy.
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