Pulsed angiolytic laser treatment of ectasias and varices in singers

Steven M. Zeitels*, Lee M. Akst, James A. Burns, Robert E. Hillman, Matthew S. Broadhurst, R. Rox Anderson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Objectives: Varices and ectasias in singers are typically the result of phonotraumatic shearing stresses and/or collision forces on the microcirculation within the superficial lamina propria. These lesions can be debilitating in performing vocalists because of the effect of recurrent hemorrhage and/or as a contributing factor to the morbidity of other mass lesions such as polyps, nodules, and cysts. Phonomicrosurgical treatment of performers is understandably approached with great trepidation, as the vocal liability of surgically disturbing the superficial lamina propria and epithelium must be balanced with the inherent detrimental vocal effect(s) of the lesion(s). Pulsed angiolytic lasers that emit radiation at high absorbance peaks of oxyhemoglobin were examined to determine whether they were an efficacious treatment approach for ectasias and varices based on these lasers' mechanisms of action and prior experience in phonomicrosurgery. Methods: A prospective trial was done in 39 patients (40 procedures in 54 vocal folds) without complication to evaluate the effectiveness of a 585-nm pulsed dye laser (PDL; 25 cases) and a 532-nm pulsed KTP laser (15 cases) in a noncontact mode to treat 65 varices and 43 ectasias. Twenty-nine of 39 patients had varices and ectasias associated with other phonotraumatic mass lesions that required resection. Results: All patients have resumed full vocal activities, and no patient has had a subsequent hemorrhage or vocal deterioration. Conclusions: Both the 585-nm PDL and the 532-nm pulsed KTP laser were found to be efficacious and relatively safe treatment modalities for vascular abnormalities of the vocal folds in singers. Noncontact selective photoangiolysis of the aberrant vessels prevented future bleeding without substantial photothermal trauma to the overlying epithelium and surrounding delicate superficial lamina propria, thereby allowing for optimal postoperative mucosal pliability and glottal sound production. However, the pulsed KTP laser was substantially easier to use because of its enhanced hemostasis due to its longer pulse width. Vessel wall rupture was commonplace during use of the 585-nm PDL, but rarely occurred during photoangiolysis with the 532-nm pulsed KTP laser.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-580
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2006


  • Dysphonia
  • Ectasia
  • Glottis
  • Hoarseness
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Laser
  • Singer
  • Varix
  • Vocal cord
  • Vocal fold
  • Voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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