Management of benign vocal fold lesions: A survey of current opinion and practice
Empirical data are often not available to guide clinical practices in the treatment of benign mucosal lesions of the vocal folds. The purpose of this report is to describe opinions and practices in order to identify areas of consensus and discrepancy and thus guide future inquiry. A 16-item survey mailed to all active US members of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (n = 7,321) included questions on the use of voice therapy; diagnostic testing; perioperative use of steroids, antibiotics, and antireflux medications; and use of lasers. Responses used a Likert 5-point scale with end anchors of 1 equaling "never" and 5 equaling "always" and were stratified according to lesion (nodules, polyps, cysts). A 16.5% response rate (n = 1,208) was obtained. A lack of consensus was most evident in the use of voice therapy for lesions other than nodules; antireflux medication; and intravenous steroids. Disagreement was also noted regarding the use of lasers, oral steroids, and antibiotics. Other than voice therapy as initial intervention for nodules, no statistically significant differences by lesion type exist regarding use of voice therapy, laser, or any medication. Prospective clinical trials addressing voice therapy, antireflux medications, steroids, and antibiotics are needed to inform clinical practice. Furthermore, treatment practices appear to be largely independent of lesion type. Therefore, traditional diagnostic categories do not seem to be useful guides to treatment, and may need to be reevaluated in light of improvements in diagnostic technology and surgical technique.