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Questions for Dr. Kennedy
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Posted by: Paul Burnett
Date: August 7, 2000 1:17 AM

In November 1999, I underwent a parathyroidectomy. During surgery, my right vocal chord was paralyzed, which left me unable to talk with the exception of a whisper. After surgery, I was told this is common. In May, tests of the muscles to my nerve, which control my right vocal chord, indicate I will not regain function of the vocal chord. I am told a procedure which involves an implant behind the paralyzed vocal chord is needed, if I want to regain partial use of my voice. My questions are, is vocal chord paralysis common from this procedure? If so, why? Should I ever expect a normal voice again, and what other options are available?

RE: Parathyroidectomy
Posted by: Ron Kennedy, MD
Date: August 7, 2000 10:51 PM

Vocal chord paralysis occurs when the nerve which supplies the vocal chord is severed. This is a mistake by the surgeon, not an expected or common outcome, although it is a possible \"outcome.\" You should have been informed in writing and in conversation of this possibility before surgery. In the procedure that nerve is supposed to be isolated and protected. You may want to look into voice training as a way to help compensate for the loss of that vocal chord. I am not familiar with surgical procedures to help the situation, however it makes sense that if the paralyzed vocal cord could be stabilized in a neutral position solidly opposed to the remaining vocal cord, that the remaining healthy cord could compensate much more efficiently.

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