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Alternative Names Return to topVocal cord paralysis
Definition Return to top
Laryngeal nerve damage is injury to one or both of the nerves that are attached to the voice box.
Causes Return to top
Injury to the laryngeal nerves is uncommon.
However, it may occur from:
Symptoms Return to top
Injury to the left and right laryngeal nerves at the same time is an urgent situation that can lead to difficulty breathing.
Exams and Tests Return to top
The doctor will see if the vocal cords move abnormally. Abnormal movement usually means that a laryngeal nerve is injured.
Tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
Treatment depends on the cause of the injury. In some instances, no treatment may be needed and the nerve may recover on its own. Voice therapy is useful in some cases.
If surgery is needed, the goal is to change the position of the paralyzed vocal cord to improve the voice. This can be done with:
If both left and right nerves are damaged, a hole may need to be cut into the windpipe (tracheotomy) immediately to allow breathing. This is followed by another surgery at a later date.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outlook depends on the cause of the injury. In some cases, the nerve rapidly returns to normal. However, sometimes the damage is permanent.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you have: