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Voice, Airway and Swallowing Disorders Program

Your voice, your breathing, your ability to swallow. These are all things you may take for granted — until you have a problem with one of them.

The experts at the Voice, Airway and Swallowing Disorders Program help address difficulties with any of these key functions:

  • Voice: hoarseness, a change in your voice quality, loss of range, vocal fatigue, strained voice or difficulty speaking (dysphonia)
  • Airway: subglottic stenosis, chronic cough or noisy breathing (stridor)
  • Swallowing: laryngopharyngeal reflux, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or the sensation of having something in your throat (globus)

The program's capabilities include the following:

  • Same-day high-definition videostroboscopy provides an in-depth evaluation of the vocal cord mucosal wave as well as vocal cord lesions. This is especially important to professional voice users where subtle changes can cause difficulties
  • Vocal cord injections for nodules, scarring, papilloma or laryngeal neurological conditions
  • Biopsies
  • Laryngeal EMG
  • pH/impedance testing
  • Awake laser treatments of the vocal folds for papilloma or keratosis
  • Injection medialization to address vocal cord paralysis 
  • Visualization of the trachea for more accurate diagnosis and treatment of breathing difficulties or subglottic stenosis
  • Laryngeal botulinum toxin injections to address issues related to head and neck dystonia and spasmodic dysphonia
  • Pulsed KTP laser therapy for vocal cord lesions, especially vascular lesions, and hemorrhage

Many of the above procedures are performed in the office: This helps keep you out of the hospital and allows for real-time assessment of issues that may be affecting your breathing, swallowing and/or voice. 

Experts in the program work collaboratively with a variety of specialists at Rush to bring you the comprehensive care needed to address these key functions of communication.

We welcome patients seeking a second opinion.

Specialized care for the professional voice

Part of the Voice, Airway and Swallowing Disorders Program, the Professional Voice Program at Rush offers comprehensive, world-class care for singers, actors, teachers, members of the clergy, politicians, public speakers, presenters and others whose careers depend on their voices. 

We welcome patients seeking second opinions. And if you have a problem with your voice that needs to be addressed more immediately because of an upcoming performance, audition or appearance, we offer same-day appointments.

Our professional voice team comprises a fellowship-trained otolaryngologist and a speech-language pathologist with specialized training in voice disorders and therapy (also called a voice therapist).

These experts work collaboratively to address the full range of voice disorders and conditions — a multidisciplinary approach that promotes more accurate diagnoses, optimal treatment planning and better outcomes. 

In addition to the capabilities listed above, we offer the following services for our professional voice patients:

  • Voice-preserving phonomicrosurgery (highly specialized surgery to improve the voice using microscopic techniques and highly magnified views)
  • Customized voice therapy and respiratory retraining
  • Coordination of care with or referrals to other specialists as needed, including gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, allergists, oncologists and neurologists
  • Access to a network of vocal coaches and behavioral medicine specialists