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Reinke's Edema

Reinke’s edema is a term used to describe vocal fold polyps.

Causes and symptoms

Reinke’s edema typically occurs in females who smoke. Other risk factors include acid reflux disease and heavy voice use.

The polyps in Reinke’s edema may be large enough to change the voice. Often, women with the condition are mistaken for men because of a deep voice.


Treatment of Reinke’s edema includes controlling acid reflux with diet changes and medication.

Treatment may also include:

  • Smoking cessation. Quitting smoking will not reverse changes in the vocal folds, but it can stop further changes from occurring. Learn more about smoking cessation classes at UCI Health ›
  • Traditional surgery. A direct laryngosocopy is performed while the you are asleep. During this procedure, cuts are made in the vocal fold and the excess tissue is taken out.
  • Minimally invasive surgery. A laser can be used to treat Reinke's edema. This minimally invasive procedure involves placing an endoscope so the surgeon can see the larynx, then the laser is applied to the vocal folds. Over time, the laser shrinks the folds. You will be able to go home the same day.
Call our experts for an evaluation at 714-456-7017 or request an appointment online ›
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