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Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2012 Dec;20(6):497-501. doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e3283590b56.

Management of unilateral true vocal cord paralysis in children.

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Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Historically, information gained from the treatment of unilateral true vocal cord paralysis (UVCP) in adults was the same used to treat children. Today, there is a growing body of literature aimed specifically at the treatment of this condition in children. It is an area of growing interest as UVCP can significantly impact a child's quality of life.


Children with UVCP may present with stridor, dysphonia, aspiration, feeding difficulties, or a combination of these symptoms. Diagnosis relies on laryngoscopy, but other adjuncts such as ultrasound and laryngeal electromyography may also be helpful in making the diagnosis and forming a treatment plan. In many instances, there is effective compensation by the contralateral vocal fold, making surgical intervention unnecessary. Children who cannot compensate for a unilateral defect may suffer from significant dysphonia that can affect their quality of life because their ability to be understood may be diminished. In these patients, treatment in the form of medialization or reinnervation of the affected recurrent laryngeal nerve may be warranted.


UVCP is a well recognized problem in pediatric patients with disordered voice and feeding problems. Some patients will spontaneously recover their laryngeal function. For those who do not, a variety of reliable techniques are available for rehabilitative treatment. Improved diagnostics and a growing understanding of prognosis can help guide therapy decisions along with the goals and desires of the patient and his or her family.

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