Is there Really a Lump in My Throat? The Incidence and Implication of Vocal fold Abnormalities in Patients Presenting with Globus



      To identify the prevalence of vocal fold abnormalities in patients with a primary complaint of globus sensation. Secondly, to determine the relationship between globus, vocal fold abnormality, and patient-reported quality of life questionnaire score.

      Study Design

      Retrospective chart review.


      A retrospective chart review was performed to identify all new patients evaluated at a tertiary academic care laryngology practice between January 2018 and December 2018 presenting with a chief complaint of globus. Variables of interest include age, gender, laryngeal symptoms, self-reported quality-of-life questionnaire results, and laryngostroboscopy findings. Questionnaires selected for this investigation include the reflux symptom index (RSI), eating assessment tool-10 (EAT-10), and voice handicap index-10 (VHI-10).


      Two hundred twenty-eight subjects with an average age of 54 ±17 years, were categorized based on one of three laryngostroboscopic findings: absence of vocal fold abnormality, vocal fold paresis/paralysis (motion abnormality), or a vocal fold mass lesion. Fifty percent of patients reporting globus had a normal laryngeal exam, and 50% had a mass lesion or motion abnormality. Twenty five percent had vocal fold motion abnormality (paresis, paralysis, or supraglottic squeeze); 19% had a mass lesion; and 3% had both a lesion and motion abnormality. The average self-reported survey scores were compared among the three groups. Patients with dysphonia had a significantly higher VHI-10 (P = 0.00), and a significantly higher RSI (P =  0.00) than those without dysphonia. Those patients with dysphagia had significantly higher EAT-10 (P = 0.00) and RSI (P = 0.02) scores than those who did not have dysphagia. Patients with vocal fold motion abnormality had significantly higher VHI-10 than those with normal vocal fold mobility (P = 0.02)


      Identifying the etiology of globus presents a significant challenge to laryngologists. Data presented here suggest that vocal fold abnormalities may contribute to the sensation of globus and should therefore be considered in the differential when managing these patients.

      Key Words


      VHI-10 (Voice Handicap Index-10), RSI (Reflux symptom index), EAT-10 (Eating assessment tool-10), IRB (Institutional Review Board), GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), LPR/GERD (laryngopharyngeal reflux/gastroesophageal reflux), LPR (laryngopharyngeal reflux), SLP (speech and language pathologist), GI (glottic insufficiency), MTD (muscle tension dysphonia), PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), TVF (true vocal fold)
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