Voice & Swallowing
Established in 1998 in Tampa, the Florida Center for Vocal Health specializes in state-of-the-art diagnosis and management of voice problems. Our clinical staff has specialized training in the care of the professional and non-professional voice, and is dedicated to helping patients and interested persons understand more about voice function and health. Founding director Daniel A. Vincent, Jr., M.D. is a fellowship trained Laryngologist and board certified Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) surgeon with expertise and experience in the treatment of a wide variety of problems that can affect the voice and the upper airway.
Florida E.N.T. & Allergy's Speech and Language Pathologists offer the latest technology in diagnosis and therapy of voice disorders. We also offer evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders. Our speech-language pathologists have earned certifications of clinical competence in speech-pathology through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Laryngology is a subspecialty within otolaryngology. Laryngologists specialize in the treatment of disorders of the throat and larynx (voice box), including communication and swallowing disorders. Patients who require the care of a laryngologist are often individuals who use their voices professionally, such as singers, actors, public speakers or teachers.
Other patients who seek laryngological treatment are individuals troubled by perpetual hoarseness, chronic cough or sore throat, difficulty swallowing or problems with voice projection.
Causes of Laryngological Disorders
Laryngologists are trained to diagnose and treat the underlying causes of throat and voice problems. These causes may include:
- Overuse or abuse of the voice
- Anatomical abnormalities
- Polyps, nodules or cysts of the vocal cords
- Vascular lesions
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Cancer of the larynx
Most frequently, a laryngoscopy is necessary for accurate diagnosis, but this procedure can often take place during a short period of time right in the doctor's office. This diagnostic test may be done a number of ways, but always involves the insertion of some type of endoscope into the mouth or nose and down the back of the throat.
Depending on the nature of the problem, a flexible or rigid tube may be used. The laryngoscope will always be fitted with a miniature camera so that the targeted area can be visualized and photographed for later analysis. At times, a tiny video camera, a miniature mirror or a pulsating strobe light may also be used during the examination. The laryngoscope, in addition to being a diagnostic tool, provides treatment options since the doctor can insert tiny surgical instruments through the scope in order to remove tissue for biopsy.
In certain cases, other diagnostic testing is necessary. When the patient is troubled by difficulty swallowing, for example, the laryngologist may administer a barium swallowing study.
In addition to surgical excisions performed during laryngoscopies, doctors have several other methods for treating disorders of the throat and larynx. At times, simple noninvasive treatments, such as breathing exercises, voice therapy, or medication for acid reflux may be all that is necessary to relieve symptoms. At other times, surgery may be necessary.
It is possible that a tonsillectomy will be required to alleviate pressure and inflammation in the throat or that a thyroplasty, during which a patch of synthetic mesh is placed on the vocal cords, will be recommended. Frequently injection laryngoplasty (vocal cord injections) are of help, although the iarnjections may have to be repeated. In more serious cases of injury or disease, particularly when there is a malignancy present, a full or partial removal of the larynx (laryngectomy) may be performed. The type of surgery performed depends on the nature and severity of the patient's condition.
Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing
An endoscopic evaluation of swallowing is a test that may be performed to diagnose swallowing difficulties. Patients who suffer from dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, may undergo an endoscopy to determine the cause of their swallowing problem.
The endoscopic evaluation of swallowing test is performed with a thin, lighted tube known as an endoscope. Prior to the procedure, a topical anesthetic may be sprayed in the patient's nose and throat. The endoscope is then placed into the throat. Food coloring is then placed onto a variety of foods, and fed to the patient. The food coloring makes it easier for the doctor to see how the food travels down the throat. The doctor will then be able to view the throat and swallowing process on a computer screen.
After the test, the speech pathologist will review the results with the requesting physician, and a customized therapy plan will be created to address the individual patient's condition and treatment.