Benign vocal fold lesions: update on nomenclature, cause, diagnosis, and treatment

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The management of benign vocal fold lesions (BVFLs) continues to evolve. This article will review the recent literature surrounding the nomenclature, cause, diagnosis, and treatment of BVFLs, including polyps, nodules, cysts, and reactive lesions.

Recent findings

The taxonomy of vocal fold lesions has been refined, and it serves as a common descriptive language for diagnosis, treatment algorithms, and reporting of outcomes. Though these lesions are known to be the result of phonotrauma, investigation into inflammatory mediators, apoptosis, and laryngopharyngeal reflux provide further elucidation of their underlying pathophysiology. The future of diagnosis, for which direct fiberoptic visualization and stroboscopy are the current gold standard, may utilize narrow-band imaging and videokymography; the clinical utility of ultrasound and optical coherence tomography is more remote. Angiolytic laser therapy and intralesional steroid injection are acceptable options for treatment of BVFLs. Voice therapy and microsurgical excision are mainstays of treatment.

Summary

Recent clinical and basic science research has expanded upon an extensive literature surrounding the nomenclature, cause, diagnosis, and treatment of benign subepithelial vocal fold lesions. There remains a strong need for the advancement of rigorous diagnostic principles, evaluation of therapeutic interventions, and development of best practices guidelines.

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