It’s not often enough that those of us who are voice users or those of us who rehabilitate voice, get to see what our mechanism looks like. Rarer still, is the chance for an SLP to observe in the operating room for a procedure that many clients undergo.
When individuals experience poor glottic closure, it can be from a number of things such as paralysis, disuse atrophy, or presbylaryngus to name a few. This causes the patient to be hoarse, breathy, and soft in volume. A procedure to medialize the vocal folds actually helps them touch during phonation (sound production) and improve overall function. Many times they need voice rehabilitation to help them learn to work with their new and improved hardware.
Here are some photographs (permission obtained from patient and physician) that show the steps to a bilateral TVF medialization laryngoplasty. I hope you enjoy learning about this procedure just as I did while I was there.
I want to encourage you to keep knocking on doors to see if you can observe surgeries. Bonus if you can sit in on one that is for a patient you care for. This type of interdisciplinary knowledge helps the patient understand more about what went on, what they can expect, and helps provide knowledge for patients moving forward.
Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She rehabilitates voice and swallowing at her private practice, a tempo Voice Center, and lectures on voice science nationally. She is part of the Professional Development Committee for ASHA Special Interest Group 3, Voice and Upper Airway Disorders, and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan-American Vocology Association. Knickerbocker blogs on her website at www.atempovoicecenter.com. She has developed a line of kid and adult-friendly therapy materials specifically for voice on TPT or her website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Twitter and Instagram or like her on Facebook.