Feasibility and Associated Limitations of Office-Based Laryngeal Surgery Using Carbon Dioxide Lasers

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There are few reports evaluating awake, office-based carbon dioxide (CO2) laser surgery for laryngeal lesions. To date, this study was the largest reported case series of office-based laryngeal surgery by fiber delivery CO2 laser. Office-based laryngeal surgical procedures have become increasingly popular. Technical problems and treatment outcomes associated with the use of a CO2 laser for office-based laryngeal surgery have yet to be fully addressed.


To discuss a single institution’s clinical experience with office-based CO2 laser laryngeal surgery and the feasibility and limitations associated with this procedure.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This retrospective study evaluated 49 laryngeal surgical procedures performed using a CO2 laser in 40 consecutive adult patients at a single institution in Taiwan from July 1, 2014, through September 30, 2015. Laryngeal lesions treated included vocal fold leukoplakia (n = 13), benign vocal fold lesions (n = 10), Reinke edema (n = 4), recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (n = 6), and lesions outside the vocal folds (n = 7).


Office-based laryngeal surgery performed using a CO2 laser under topical anesthesia.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Videolaryngoscopy was performed on all patients at each follow-up point. Among patients with benign vocal lesions and Reinke edema, videolaryngostroboscopy, voice laboratory measurements, perceptual measurements of vocal quality, and subjective evaluations were conducted before and after surgery.


Among the 40 patients included in this study (28 men [70%] and 12 women [30%]; median [range] age, 56 [29-83] years), median follow-up time was 6.5 months (range, 1-21 months). Among the 49 procedures, 2 (4%) could not be tolerated by patients owing to severe gag reflex and laryngeal hypersensitivity, 6 (12%) could not completely evaporate lesions owing to an inadequate surgical field or laryngeal instability, and 1 (2%) led to a complication (ie, mild vocal fold wound stiffness). In addition, 2 patients with premalignant vocal fold leukoplakia showed lesion recurrence in the subglottic area. Among patients with benign vocal lesions and Reinke edema, postoperative phonatory function showed large improvements in jitter (effect size, 0.61; median difference, −0.98%; 95% CI, −1.57% to −0.11%), noise to harmonic ratio (effect size, 0.63; median difference, −0.02; 95% CI, −0.07 to −0.01), maximal phonation time (effect size, 0.61; median difference, 3.6 seconds; 95% CI, 1.9 to 8.8 seconds), and Voice Handicap Index–10 score (effect size, 0.60; median difference, −7; 95% CI, −12 to −2).

Conclusions and Relevance

Office-based laryngeal surgery performed using a CO2 laser was shown to be a feasible treatment option for various types of vocal lesions. However, patients should not undergo this procedure if they have multiple bulky lesions or lesions involving the subglottic area, the laryngeal ventricle, or (in cases of inadequate laryngeal stability) the free edge of a vocal fold.

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