Sulcus Vocalis in Laryngeal Cancer: A Histopathologic Study

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The incidental finding of sulcus vocalis in surgical specimens of patients with laryngeal cancer prompted this review. Sulcus deformities were histologically identified in 28 (48%) of 58 whole-mount coronal serial-sectioned laryngeal specimens procured from laryngeal cancer patients. The lesions were analyzed, described, and graded. A control group of 20 larynges, obtained from autopsies of patients without known laryngeal pathology, were similarly processed, and whole-mount histologic sections were studied. Four of these specimens (20%) also demonstrated sulcus deformities. In the control group, the shape and location of the sulci were similar, but the lesions were smaller than in the cancer group. The sulcus lesions revealed chronic inflammation of the subepithelial tissues with vascular ingrowth and fibrosis of the superficial lamina propria (Reinke's space); in the cancer group the sulcus was usually on the opposite vocal fold, where irritation from the tumor might be anticipated. Although the etiology of the sulci remains controversial, these findings suggest that irritation and inflammation might play a role in the pathogenesis of sulcus vocalis.

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