Zapping Voice Disorders

Laser surgery faster, cheaper and simpler than standard procedure

FRIDAY, May 21, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Pulsed-dye laser (PDL) surgery to treat voice disorders is faster, simpler, cheaper and better tolerated by patients than standard surgery that requires general anesthesia.

Surgeons from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center reported the finding May 21 at an international conference on problems associated with laryngopharyngeal reflux, a condition where acid reflux from the stomach reaches the throat and voice box.

PDLs were originally developed to treat skin conditions such as birthmarks.

"This is the way a lot of surgery will be done in the future in other areas you can reach with an instrument from the outside," Dr. Jamie Koufman, director of Wake Forest's Center for Voice and Swallowing Disorders, said in a prepared statement.

At the conference, Koufman presented information about this new method of throat surgery and its delivery system, the transnasal esophagoscope.

First, the patient's throat is sprayed with a numbing medication. Next, a tube the width a drinking straw is inserted through the patient's nose and into the throat or voice box. A laser fiber is then fed through this tube. Surgeons then fire the laser to destroy abnormal tissue, leaving healthy tissue unharmed.

"You numb the larynx, the patient coughs and spreads the medication down the throat, and minutes later, it's over," Koufman said.

PDL is most often used to deal with recurrent papillomas (laryngeal warts) and bumps on the vocal folds.

More information

The American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery has more about voice disorders.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, May 21, 2004
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