Autoimmune Associated Vocal Fold Lesions: A Systematic Review

Published:December 20, 2022DOI:



      While Autoimmune Associated Vocal Fold Lesions (AaVFLs) have been described in many reports, there is no consensus on best practices in management. The purpose of this systematic review is to clarify the characteristics and treatment of dysphonia in the setting of AaVFLs.

      Study Design

      Systematic review


      Pubmed and OVIDMedline and Google Scholar were searched, including terms related to (1) Vocal fold/cord, rheumatoid node/nodule, bamboo nodes/nodules, laryngeal deposits/nodes/nodules and (2) Autoimmune diseases/syndromes, connective tissue disease.


      Twenty-one studies with 83 patients diagnosed with AaVFLs were included. AaVFLs occurred predominantly in females in the 4th or 5th decade of life, with an overall mean age of 39.8 (SD = 12.8). Autoimmune or connective tissue disease was established prior to presentation to an otolaryngologist in 75.9% (44/58) of patients. Bilateral lesions were present in 83.8% (57/68) of patients. Treatment modalities included medical therapy alone (28.1%), voice therapy alone (17.5%), surgical treatment alone (7.0%), combination of medical and voice therapy (33.3%), and combination of surgical, medical and voice therapy (7.0%). All patients treated with voice therapy had voice improvement; lower rates were seen with solo medical (4/14 improved, 28.6%) or surgical therapy (3/6 improved, 50%).


      AaVFLs occur predominantly in women in their 30′s to 50′s and are associated with a variety of autoimmune conditions. A significant number of patients (25%) present to the Otolaryngologist without an established autoimmune diagnosis. While treatment outcomes are not robustly reported, a significant number of patients with AAVFLs treated with voice therapy alone or voice therapy in combination with other treatment modalities (medical or surgical) experience subjective improvement in voice quality and function.

      Key words

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