The neck

LARYNX

The larynx houses the vocal cords. The voice generation is indeed the most important function of this organ. The epiglottis prevents food from entering the trachea and getting into the lung. Besides, coughing and abdominal press require a suitable functioning of the vocal cords.

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Voice Disorders (DYSPHONy)

Hoarseness and other vocal problems can be due to various causes and have, accordingly, to be treated with different therapeutic approaches. For the examination and the treatment of voice problems we recommend you the Department for Voice and Speech Disorders (Phoniatrics) of the ENT Clinic of the Munich LMU University. Many so-called “functional” voice disorders are treated by strictly conservative logopaedic therapies instead of surgical interventions.

If hoarseness arises from other causes, such as polyps or cysts at the vocal cords, a minor surgical procedure is necessary to eliminate the cause of the trouble by means of a microscopic intervention. Generally, the stay in hospital does not last longer than 24 hours.

An operation may be necessary to improve the voice or the breathing, for example in the event of vocal cord paralysis or after a major larynx surgery. Such a procedure aims to tighten or to widen the space between the vocal cords (glottis). The surgery is not too burdensome. The tightening of the glottis improves the voice quality, whereas its widening enhances the breathing. For the surgery an endoscopic laser is used under microscopic control. It is always advisable to undergo a logopaedic voice therapy in addition to the surgical treatment.

Change of the voICE PITCH (Male-to-female transsexuals)

The voice pitch is an evident sexual characteristic. Therefore, the desire of male-to-female transgender persons to elevate their voice pitch is understandable. It is not always possible to achieve this through a logopaedic therapy and a hormonal treatment is ineffective. If the logopaedic treatment fails, the elevation of the voice pitch can be achieved by a surgical intervention, in which the vocal cords in the larynx are tightened up by means of special suture techniques. This provokes - similarly to the tightening of guitar strings - an elevation of the sound and consequently of the voice pitch. Such operations are performed under a short narcosis and require a stay in hospital of several days. A logopaedic therapy should in any case be undergone subsequently to the surgical procedure in order to stabilize the outcome of the surgery. The correction of a protruding laryngeal prominence can be carried out without problem along with the vocal cord surgery. This cosmetic surgery helps the “patient” to develop a feminine appearance.

Tumours in the Larynx

Malignant tumours in the larynx are a serious problem. In an early stage they merely cause hoarseness like other benign laryngeal tumours. Such malignant processes can be detected early through careful examinations by means of highly performing endoscopes. As far as possible, tumours are ablated endoscopically with the use of microscopes and a CO2-Laser. So the ablation of the entire larynx can be avoided.

Yet, if the removal of the complete larynx (laryngectomy) is inevitable, the speech can be restored reasonably in most of the cases by the use of advanced techniques.

The following pages may also contain some useful information for you:
- The mouth
- Further medical care
- About me - Prof. Dr. Berghaus
- News

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