Anatomy of the Condition
The vocal folds (or cords) are inside the larynx or voice box. These structures open for breathing. They come together during swallowing. They vibrate as air passes between them during speaking or singing. Fine layers with a soft outer cover make up the vocal folds. A stiffer ligament lies below the thyroarytenoid muscle, connecting deep in the ligament. The thyroarytenoid muscle makes up the bulk of the vocal fold.
Vocal fold nodules are benign masses or lumps that form on both vocal folds. They can impair vocal fold vibration and cause vocal difficulties. If untreated, the masses can harden into callus-like growths.
Vocal fold polyps are generally softer masses. They form more like blisters and can appear on one or both of the vocal folds.
Vocal fold cysts are masses located deep in the surface of the vocal fold. They result from entrapment of some of the lining of the vocal fold under the lining. Plugging of a mucous-secreting gland beneath the vocal fold can also cause cysts.