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Quick Case

A Broadway Star Sustains Serious Injury to Her Vocal Fold

A Broadway performer noticed her voice deteriorating in the week leading up to a demanding production in North Carolina. Her voice was getting tired quickly, and she was struggling to change her voice quality for the various sounds she had to produce for the show. Eight months earlier, she had undergone surgery in New York for varices on her right vocal fold.

Rattled, she called the Duke Voice Care Center and was scheduled for an appointment that day with a voice therapist and head and neck surgeon David Witsell, MD, who focuses on laryngology. Witsell performed a head and neck examination, and the vocal therapist performed videolaryngostroboscopy.

Videolaryngostroboscopy, which provides an accurate, magnified view of the vocal folds, revealed swelling in the right vocal fold that was preventing the vocal folds from fully vibrating.

Witsell prescribed prednisone to decrease the edema and scheduled a vocal therapy appointment for later that day with singing voice specialist Leda Scearce, MM, MS, director of the Performing Voice Programs and Development at the voice center.

Scearce worked with the patient in daily voice therapy sessions for the next 6 days, helping her develop techniques to meet the vocal demands of the show without further injuring herself. The day before the show, the patient texted Scearce in a panic: She had suddenly started losing her voice.

Question: What condition did Scearce and Witsell diagnose, and what was their recommendation to the patient?

View case conclusion ➧

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