A synthetic material, polytetrafluoroethylene, most popularly associated with non-stick cooking pans. Until 25 or so years ago, it was common to treat paralyzed vocal cords by injecting a paste of Teflon particles deep within the cords. It was an effective treatment for its time, but it occasionally caused granuloma formation and required late debulking.

Today, injected materials such as hyaluronic acid gel or hydroxyapatite particles suspended in hyaluronic acid are typically used instead for temporary or somewhat permanent rehabilitation. For permanent rehabilitation of permanent paralysis, surgically implanted silastic wedges are used most often, though other materials are also used optionally.

Teflon Bulge, before and after Removal

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Teflon bulge (1 of 4)

Abducted, breathing position, standard light. The left vocal cord (right of image) was injected with Teflon paste decades ago, before contemporary materials and techniques were available. Note the bulge in the ventricle, and also at the free margin of the cord (arrows).

Teflon bulge (2 of 4)

Phonatory view, strobe light. Notice how the right vocal cord (left of image) must “wrap around” the convex left vocal cord.

Teflon bulge: after removal (3 of 4)

A few weeks after microsurgical “excavation” of part of the Teflon. Straighter free margin, and reduced bulge within the ventricle.

Teflon bulge: after removal (4 of 4)

Phonation, strobe light. In spite of blurring, can see that the match of the cords is improved, and this correlates with the patient’s much improved voice.

Posterior Commissure Synechiae

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Tethered vocal cords (1 of 5)

This man has right vocal cord paralysis and a history decades ago of Teflon injection into the right vocal cord, resulting in posterior commissure synechiae. He is short of breath, partly due to the tissue band and partly because it tethers the vocal cords closer together than they would otherwise need to be as seen in photo 4 after the band is removed. See also photo 5.

Before laser removal (3 of 5)

The thulium laser fiber (F) is touching the synechiae, with laser energy about to be delivered.

Immediately after laser (4 of 5)

This is just after the thulium laser division of the band using topical anesthesia only, with patient sitting in a chair.

One month post-op (5 of 5)

A month later, no residue of the synechiae is seen, and the vocal cords can spring farther apart than in photo 1.

Audio with photos:


The patient describes original problem with Teflon granuloma/ overinjection, and the improvement after debulking Teflon.

Teflon Bulge, before and after Treatment

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Teflon bulge (1 of 5)

Abducted (breathing) position. 25 years ago, this woman had left vocal cord paralysis and was injected with Teflon paste. Unfortunately, this bulge of Teflon is below the cord’s margin, rather than within its center, which is disrupting the person’s voice (see next photo and caption). Space for breathing is diminished but adequate.

Teflon bulge (2 of 5)

Phonation, open phase of vibration, with strobe light. Voice quality is poor, because the Teflon bulge interferes with vocal cord vibration by deflecting the pulmonary air stream, stretching and stiffening the tissue, and putting the vocal cords out of symmetry with each other. Treatment will involve removing part of the Teflon bulge.

Teflon bulge (3 of 5)

Phonation, closed phase of vibration.

Teflon bulge: after treatment (4 of 5)

A few months after debulking of the Teflon. The contour of the undersurface of the left cord (right of image) is still abnormal, but much less so. Compare with photo 1.

Teflon bulge: after treatment (5 of 5)

Strobe light, open phase of vibration, showing how the airstream delivered to the cords is now much less obstructed. Compare with photo 2.