Reinke's Oedema


Reinke’s oedema is a collection of gelatinous fluid in Reinke’s space. This space is just under the surface of the vocal fold in the larynx (voice box).  

What causes Reinke’s Oedema?

The most common cause of Reinke’s oedema is smoking. Other causes include voice overuse, reflux, hormonal changes and thyroid disease. Reinke’s oedema does not go away on its own and will likely reoccur if smoking is not stopped.

How does Reinke’s Oedema affect my voice?

Voice is produced when the vocal folds come together and vibrate as air (that is breathed out from the lungs) passes between thevocal folds.  The oedema in the superficial layer of the vocal folds causes swelling and this prevents the vocal folds from coming together smoothly. This results in a voice that is deep in pitch and has a rough quality. The deep pitch to the voice is very noticeable in women.

How is Reinke’s Oedema treated?

The cause of the oedema needs to be corrected before specific treatment is indicated. This means stopping smoking and treating any reflux or hormonal conditions. Specific treatment includes voice therapy and surgery. The oedema can be removed surgically in a procedure called a microlaryngoscopy and this is carried out under general anaesthetic. Voice therapy will take place before and/or any surgery to give you advice on how to care for your voice.

Does Reinke’s Oedema come back after treatment?

Preventing the recurrence of Reinke’s oedema depends on correcting the underlying causes, effective voice therapy and successful initial surgery.