PATHOPHYSIOLOGY: Vocal Cord Paralysis

Predisposing Factors: Injury, tumors, or surgery in the neck or upper chest; brain tumors or stroke that can affect the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN); neuropathies; benign or malignant laryngeal and head or neck lesions; degenerative neurologic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease; head or chest trauma; medical intubations; infectious diseases that may affect the nerve like whooping cough, polio, and tetanus. Unilateral or bilateral vocal cord paralysis.

When bilateral: significant functional impairment of phonation and respiration .

Impaired vocal cord vibrations that make sounds.

Breathing is obstructed on inspiration, producing a condition known as stridor. Closing the airway while breathing in produces creaking noises in the throat and changes the shape of the chest.

Throat, mouth, and nasal passages are impaired to amplify and modify these sounds to produce voice.

Vocal tract articulators (tongue, soft palate, lips) are impaired to further modify the sounds to produce words.

Signs: hoarseness or complete voice loss; absent, abnormal, or nearly normal voice; breathy, weak, low-pitched, or high-pitched dysphonia; short vocalizations and coughing or choking when eating or drinking which may

lead to aspiration or pneumonia; dysphagia which could result to aspiration of liquids.
Prepared By: CERIACO, Chedan BSN IV-K1 Saint Louis University – College of Nursing

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