Food Network diva and talk show host Rachel Ray underwent surgery to remove a benign vocal cord cyst. Ray has been battling with hoarseness since last year. She was to undergo surgery last December, but canceled the surgery to try vocal therapy instead. Ray’s spokesperson, Charlie Dougiello reports that “After several months of vocal therapy and on the advice of her doctors, Rachael decided to have a benign cyst removed from her vocal cord. According to Rachael’s doctors the minor, non-invasive procedure was a success and she is already resting at home…. The hardest part for Rachael is going to be giving her voice a rest for the next week or so.”
The vocal cords are two folds of smooth muscle within the voice box (larynx). The larynx lies at the top of the windpipe (trachea), just below the back of the tongue. Air passing through the vocal cords causes them to vibrate, and produce the sound of your voice. Vocal abuse or misuse,such as excessive use of the voice when singing, talking, smoking, coughing, yelling, or inhaling irritants can cause abnormalities of the vocal cords, such as nodules, polyps, or cysts. The difference between these abnormalities is mostly a function of what kind of tissue is involved. There are two types of vocal cord cysts: Epidermoid cysts– made of epidermal (skin) cells and keratin (the stuff hair and nails are made of) and Mucous Retention cysts- clear fluid filled cysts. Symptoms include hoarseness, vocal fatigue, low gravelly voice, airy or breathy voice, and/or frequent throat clearing.
Surgery is reserved for patients unresponsive to vocal therapy* and is a relatively simple procedure.
* Voice therapy is a variety of techniques designed to eliminate harmful vocal behaviors and alter the manner of voice production to allow damaged vocal tissue to heal.
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