Unilateral or localized Reinke's edema (Pseudocyst) as a manifestation of vocal fold paresis: The paresis podule

J. A. Koufman, Peter C Belafsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background. The nosology of free-edge vocal fold lesions remains imprecise. In particular, the lesion termed pseudocyst remains enigmatic, because its histology is poorly defined and because its etiology is unknown. We define pseudocyst as a discrete, unilateral, localized area of Reinke's edema (without a capsule), usually occurring at the midportion of the free-edge striking zone. Objective: To report the demographic and clinical findings, as well as discuss our diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, in patients with unilateral Reinke's edema or pseudocyst. Methodology: All patients diagnosed with unilateral Reinke's edema or pseudocyst over a 2-year period (1998-1999) were identified from the clinical database of the Center for Voice Disorders of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The record of each patient was retrospectively reviewed. Results: Thirteen patients were identified, 12 of whom were female. The mean age was 36 years. Sixty-nine percent (9 of 13) had unilateral pseudocyst and 31% (4 of 13) had unilateral Reinke's edema. All patients had documented vocal fold paresis on laryngeal electromyography. The 9 patients with pseudocyst underwent excision of their lesions; 7 had bilateral medialization laryngoplasties, 1 had lipoinjection, and 3 did not have surgical intervention. Significant improvement was noted postoperatively on a self-administered glottal insufficiency (symptom) index (P <.001). Conclusion: Unilateral Reinke's edema and localized Reinke's edema (pseudocyst) are distinct clinical entities, occurring most frequently in women in their fourth decade. The finding of unilateral Reinke's edema or pseudocyst should alert the clinician to the likelihood of vocal cord paresis. Surgical intervention with medialization laryngoplasty appears to be beneficial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-580
Number of pages5
Issue number4 I
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Dysphonia
  • Hoarseness
  • Laryngeal electromyography
  • Laryngoplasty
  • Polypoid degeneration
  • Pseudocyst
  • Reinke's edema
  • Thyroplasty
  • Vocal fold paresis
  • Voice disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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