Voice and Swallowing Center

Expert Care for Patients with Speech and Swallowing Problems

Most individuals do not think about talking, breathing or swallowing until there is a problem. When hoarseness or pitch problems occur during speech, or when mealtimes become stressful, it may be beneficial to seek medical attention.

The Voice & Swallowing Center at University Hospitals Ear, Nose & Throat Institute employs advanced technology to diagnose and treat laryngeal and voice disorders. Its three major areas of focus include:

  • Hoarseness, changes in quality and loss of voice
  • Swallowing disorders
  • Breathing disorders

Specialized Help for Multiple Conditions

Some patients are referred to our center because a chronic condition has affected their ability to work. These include professional singers, teachers and attorneys who develop difficulty speaking on the job.

Other patients may suffer from weak muscles and nerves caused by various neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, stroke or a head injury. Middle-aged and elderly adults who cough and choke at meals due to weakening of the swallowing muscles may also be in need of evaluation. Pediatric patients may be born with a cleft palate or develop vocal cord growths such as nodules and cysts. These young patients also may be examined for speech, breathing or swallowing disorders.

Customized Treatment Plans

Led by a board-certified otolaryngologist and fellowship trained laryngologist, the center takes a team approach to patient care and education. As needed, our center may bring in experts in gastroenterology, pulmonary medicine, neurology, radiology, nutrition and surgery. Our goal is to coordinate care with other specialists during one patient visit. This makes it more convenient for patients and ensures the delivery of personalized, comprehensive treatment plans.

Our specially trained nurses, speech pathologists and dieticians also work with patients to help them fully understand their condition and to learn how they can make lifestyle and dietary changes to maximize the results of treatment.

Leading Therapies for Optimum Results

At the Voice & Swallowing Center, our goal is to help patients regain control of their vocal, swallowing and breathing abilities. Our physicians employ leading therapies for effective diagnosis and treatment, many of which can be administered at our center on an outpatient basis.

  • For precise evaluations, high quality digital videostroboscopy is the method of choice. During stroboscopy, a small camera looks at the vocal cords while patients speak, allowing both patient and physician to see the problem areas. The procedure enables physicians to view vocal cords in slow motion and determine the optimal treatment strategy.
  • Our center was the first in Ohio to employ the pulsed-KTP laser on an outpatient basis. With this laser, physicians remove lesions on the patient’s vocal cords during a minimally invasive procedure. With little to no recovery time, this technique is superior to its predecessor, which required longer recovery, and often does not require general anesthesia. The center can also perform office based biopsy of lesions and avoid the need for general anesthesia and time off work.
  • Transnasal esophagoscopy enables physicians to fully examine the esophagus without needing sedation. It is used to look down the food tube if areas of narrowing or lesions are suspected.
  • Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES) involves the use of a nonradioactive alternative to barium to track a patient’s swallowing function. This can be done during a normal office visit and allows us to adjust diet recommendations that day without delay. The exam is also digitally recorded to help with patient education and tracking of swallowing progress.
  • Outpatient laryngeal EMG and BOTOX® injections help with muscle weakness due to spasmodic dysphonia or stroke.

For some patients, we may recommend surgical treatment at University Hospitals Case Medical Center or University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. The center works closely with University Hospitals physicians involved in surgical otolaryngology, neurology and plastic surgery, GI and general surgery to provide coordinated care.

Make an Appointment

Request an appointment with an ENT Institute specialist at UH Case Medical Center
216-844-6000

or use our Online Request Form

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