Throat and Voice Disorders

The physicians at Potomac Ear, Nose and Throat are expertly trained in evaluating and diagnosing voice and swallowing disorders.


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(703) 499-8787

Your treatment plan is designed for steady progress, with every phase promptly implemented.

What is the Larynx?

It is important to understand the anatomy and function of the voice box or “larynx” (pronounced LAIR- INKS) in order to understand how disorders can affect its function. The larynx is important in regards to 3 important things that we do: Breathing, Talking, and Eating.

When we breathe, the vocal cords normally open. When we talk (phonate), the vocal cords come together and vibrate as air from the lungs is exhaled and pushed passed the vocal cords. Just like strings on a violin, pitch is altered by changing the amount of tension placed on the vocal cords. When we swallow, the vocal cords also close and the airway is partially protected by the epiglottis so that we don’t choke on what we eat.

Evaluation of the larynx and throat

There are many disorders that can disrupt the function of the larynx and cause problems with breathing, eating, and talking. Your throat can be evaluated in the office with a flexible fiberoptic endoscope. This is done by decongesting the nose with Afrin, followed by numbing the nose and throat with an anesthetic. The flexible fiberoptic endoscope is introduced into the nose and passed into the back of the nasal cavity and then down into the throat. Different areas of the throat and voice box can be assessed with this procedure.

Evaluation of the voice

If pathology is identified on fiberoptic endoscopy that is impacting the voice, videostroboscopy can be done to further evaluate the voice and to look for subtle masses and weaknesses of the vocal folds. The back of the throat is numbed similarly to flexible endoscopy. A rigid videostroboscope is introduced through the mouth while your tongue is gentle held forward. A high resolution camera then takes video as you are vocalizing. A strobe light is timed to the frequency of the sound so that the vocal fold movement will appear in slow motion and abnormalities may be identified.

What kind of disorders can be identified by these procedures?

Benign and malignant tumors of the throat and voice box can impair the normal vibration of the vocal cords. There may be weakness or paralysis to muscles of the voice box. There can also be inflammation of the voice box due to postnasal drip and allergies, acid reflux, and infections of the throat.

If you have concerns regarding your throat and voice, call today for an evaluation with the physicians at Potomac Ear, Nose and Throat at 703-499-8787


Our Head Audiologist

Emily Pastore, Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Pastore has moved along the east coast with her U.S. Coast Guard husband Mathew from Maine, to South Carolina, back up to Cape Cod, MA before making Woodbridge, VA their home in order to be near family. Dr. Pastore enjoys working in all aspects of clinical audiology from testing hearing, to special diagnostic testing for dizziness and balance, to finding the right hearing aid options for each patient.

Dr. Pastore spends her time outside the clinic with her young daughter and son taking walks along the local trails as well as watching her daughter in gymnastics and her son learn to play the drums.