Vocal Fold Atrophy


Vocal fold atrophy is a condition in which the vocal folds lose their bulk and become thin. Vocal fold atrophy is also known as vocal fold thinning or bowing. The vocal folds close when you voice or swallow. Atrophy of the vocal folds results in weaker closure of the vocal folds.

What causes Vocal Fold Atrophy?

Common causes are thinning secondary to ageing, or secondary to medications, such as steroid inhalers for asthma.

How could Vocal Fold Atrophy affect me?

If you have thin vocal folds you may experience vocal symptoms such as fatigue of the voice with prolonged talking, reduced projection of the voice, quietness of the voice or an inability to sing. Occasionally people with thinning of the vocal folds may have difficulty swallowing, such as coughing or choking when swallowing (especially liquids).  Your neck and/or throat may also feel tired and may ache.

How is Vocal Fold Atrophy treated?

Vocal fold atrophy is treated by a Laryngologist (ENT Surgeon) and a Voice Therapist (Speech-Language Therapist). The Voice Therapist will teach you vocal techniques and will help you to optimise your voicing to improve how your voice sounds and feels. Surgery to augment the vocal folds may be recommended to improve closure of the vocal folds. vocal fold augmentation is achieved either by injecting an absorbable filler for temporary augmentation, or by inserting permanent implants into the vocal folds.