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Damage to vocal cord from Thyroidectomy

tonjam
Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2009

I had a thyroidectomy in September of 2008. My voice was very quiet at first and now is still not normal. I have seen an ENT several times times now. I also have breathing problems at times. Surgery is not an option now because the Dr. is concerned about me having even less space to breathe.
Anyone know if the Surgeon is liable when this happens?
Please give me your comments. Thanks

austinmama
Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2009

I had my surgery on 9/29. I knew there was a risk of my voice being softer, whispery, hoarse...things like that. I didn't realize that I would only be able to whisper after surgery. My surgeon said that there was a lot of bruising of the vocal chord nerves and some nerves were cut. It would take up to 5 months to regain my voice.

I've had little improvements in my voice from the beginning. I'm guessing it will take 3-4 months at this rate to get it back.

You probably signed things at the hospital before the surgery that says you understand all of the risks associated with the surgery. No one is liable.

You will get your voice back...I know it's difficult...just be patient.

straussu's picture
straussu
Posts: 21
Joined: Dec 2007

I had my surgery (total thyroidectomy) 15 years ago. My voice was hoarse and the louder I tried to speak, the quieter it came out. I was told after a month of frustration that the surgeon had damaged one of the nerves leading to the voice box. (Why don't they tell you these things at the beginning?) I took a month's leave of absence from work and went to voice therapy at a speech center in a hospital. I was limited to the amount of talking I could do each day. I had exercises and therapy twice a week. It really helped and after one month, my voice was back to normal. Maybe you can get the doctor to order voice therapy. Good luck!

bzufall's picture
bzufall
Posts: 2
Joined: Dec 2009

I had my surgery (TT) 7 years ago. I spoke in a whisper for 3 months before my voice came back. It actually came back during my highest dose of RAI. Even to this day I only have one working vocal chord and can't scream. However my voice is strong and I can talk normal again. It is a little lower than it was, but it's totally fine. Have faith!

miladyx
Posts: 85
Joined: May 2009

... effective at eliminating your cancer? was your spread to the lymph nodes? anywhere else?

Jfoga143
Posts: 5
Joined: Jul 2009

i had my surgery in July 09, i am just now getting my voice back. and it doesnt stay all day. i have been assured that there was no damage to my vocal cords. I get out of breath talking very easily. I went to voice therapy also. It just takes time. my voice is a million times better then it was. i have confidence that it will return.

husky voice
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2013

Hi There,

I am happy to read your voice is back, and you have only one working vocal cord ? is it true to today ?

How do you feel now ? Do you talk normally ?

I had my TT in Oct 25 and one of my vocal cord is not working,talking is really hard and painfull for me.

Can you pls reply to me ?

 

 

 

 

momofone22
Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2010

I had a total Thyroidectomy 10-29-01 (9 yrs ago)and I also had the recurrent larygeal nerve severed. I never regained my old voice back, my voice is weak, and I have to work a little harder to be heard.. especially in loud places. I would suggest the voice therapy and vocal exercises all the time. I get frustrated sometimes, but I have to remain positive and work harder to condition my lungs and diaphragm so they can do their job. I had one of my vocal cords injected with a temporary filler, a couple of years ago, and that lasted 6 months, but it became harder to breathe, but my voice was louder for a while. Keep in touch, im glad I found this site.
Martha.

jecklehyde
Posts: 33
Joined: Nov 2007

I had my partial and total thyroidectomy 3 years ago. My voice never really came back. I went for 6 months of voice therapy to no avail. My surgeon finally told me one nerve was damaged. After going to the ThyCa conference in October of '09, one of the doctor's gave me the name of a voice specialist. I live in the New York area, so this doctor is out of Cornell Medical Center. He did some tests and found that every nerve is damaged around my chords. He told me I could have the injection, but it would only last around 2 months, so in March he will be putting implants on both sides of my vocal chords. He said I would not get back my original voice, but I would be able to project my voice. Since I work on the phone all day, this is something I really need. Very nervous, but really want to be able to talk normal again.

10acity's picture
10acity
Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 2009

I had my total thyroidectomy just over two weeks ago and my voice is also far from normal. I'm told that it may take up to 6 months for my voice/breathing to return to normal. I understand that there can be damage/paralysis caused to the laryngeal fold which can then take this long to recover. I can only hope that my surgeon did not cause any permanent damage because I know that this was a major risk of the surgery. However, the alternative was keeping a Hurtle cell tumour that was almost 5 cm. in size. Not really much of a choice. I hope that the implants work for you. Good Luck!

10acity's picture
10acity
Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 2009

I had my total thyroidectomy just over two weeks ago and my voice is also far from normal. I'm told that it may take up to 6 months for my voice/breathing to return to normal. I understand that there can be damage/paralysis caused to the laryngeal fold which can then take this long to recover. I can only hope that my surgeon did not cause any permanent damage because I know that this was a major risk of the surgery. However, the alternative was keeping a Hurtle cell tumour that was almost 5 cm. in size. Not really much of a choice. I hope that the implants work for you. Good Luck!

10acity's picture
10acity
Posts: 5
Joined: Nov 2009

I had my total thyroidectomy just over two weeks ago and my voice is also far from normal. I'm told that it may take up to 6 months for my voice/breathing to return to normal. I understand that there can be damage/paralysis caused to the laryngeal fold which can then take this long to recover. I can only hope that my surgeon did not cause any permanent damage because I know that this was a major risk of the surgery. However, the alternative was keeping a Hurtle cell tumour that was almost 5 cm. in size. Not really much of a choice. I hope that the implants work for you. Good Luck!

sandykr's picture
sandykr
Posts: 57
Joined: Jan 2010

I am now 7 weeks post completion thyroidectomy and my voice is still extremely deep, and there are those that say "sexy", they're just trying to make me feel better. Twice they checked my vocal cords and assured me that they're fine,
I am a Physical Therapist and I know that a nerve doesn't need to be totally severed to create weakness.......maybe thats the same with the vocal cords, if the nerve was stretched, or pulled. Hopefully it will just take time.
My range is extremely extremely small, cannot sing at all! and I feel its an effort sometimes to talk...

waiting for improvement.

sandy

swoitowitz's picture
swoitowitz
Posts: 2
Joined: Feb 2013

I had a total thyroidectomy May 2012, resulted in paralysis of left vocal chord. My voice is like a 5 yr old girl; I've adapted to the new voice. My struggle is with breathing. I am a group exercise leader & my breathing obstruction limits my performance ability. I choke w randomly when I drink liquids & it's almost impossible to drink when I exercise. endocrinologist recommended radiation, but b/c risk damage to remaining vocal chord, I chose not to. I also lost my parathyroid b/c they were imbedded in my thyroid. ENT doc offered to clip vocal chord to open my airway, has anyone had that done & did it improve the situation?

alapah's picture
alapah
Posts: 256
Joined: Oct 2009

I lost the use of my right vocal cord because the surgeon had to sever the laryngeal nerve as it was encased by the cancer. In my case, I am fortunate to have the cord stuck in the middle position which means speaking is decent and I also swallowing without any issues. Downside, as you know, is that breathing suffers with a frozen cord. I also will choke if I try to guzzle drinks - I have adapted how I swallow though and it has minimized those issues. In the beginning, I found out the hard way that I can't do shots (not that I feel I am missing anything there!).

I did have six weeks of external beam radiation to the neck just a few months after my surgery because my tumor had not been encapsulated. I had mine done at Mayo Clinic and before they had me do the radiation they sent me to their ENT department and a physical therapist who conducted a swallow study which included a real-time xray of my throat as I ate and drank different viscosities of liquiids and a some solid stuff. This was done to determine if I was aspirating as I swallowed, which, apparently, can be a problem for people with vocal cord paralysis. All was well so I went through the radiation and was also given some vocal and neck muscle exercises to do to help improve my working cord. The radiation did not have any impacts on my cords at all. Before radiation I asked the radiologist if the one good nerve could be damaged by the radiation and he felt strongly that it would not. They can actually do a lot to target specific areas, and with specific amounts, and they can minimize or even avoid other areas.They don't just beam the whole area entirely and with one level. It's pretty amazing how complex the beam pattern can be.

After radiiation I had a follow up visit with the ENT and physical therapist, with another xray swallow study, and all was fine. I have never heard of the clipping thing but I would be a bit concerned about how that may affect swallowing or even speech. Did your ENT provide you with pros and cons of having that done?

If you can, get a second opinion, or even three or four. I had six before I decided to go ahead with the radiation.

I was jogging prior to the cancer diagnosis but I don't do that sort of thing anymore because the cord paralysis does interfere with my breathing. It must be so much rougher for someone such as yourself who makes a living exercising. I wish I had answers for you - the best I can do is encourage you to talk to a few more specialists to determine the best course for your particular situation.

Best to you.

eileen

leighgot's picture
leighgot
Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2013

Alapah (Eileen)  Your experience sounds alot like mine - I had surgery Feb 4th, last month. They are now wanting to change my treatment and for me to do the EBR on Apr 8th and that's why I am on this site - trying to figure out what to do. MD Anderson ENT originally set me up to do the RAI Apr 18 and I am currently in the process - on my second week of Cytomel. I talked with the Rad/Onc Dr this morning and he answered alot of my questions but because of the symptoms that the surgery left me with - breathing and limited voice, as well as calcium supplements because of damage to the parathyroids, and tingling and pressure at the suture site....I don't want anymore swallowing problems after EBR - and in reading everyones responses, all I can figure is everyone's different & so is their outcomes......yours sounds most promising and thanks for sharing.

jretwav
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2013

Hi Alapah and others -

I suffered from bilateral vocal cord paralysis in 12/2009 after my total thyroidectomy. It has been devestating to my breathing. I used to love jogging before the injury but now I have trouble just walking from one room to the other. I just wanted to say "hello" on this board and get linked up with others who have BVCP. I am learning to live as "normal" of a life as I can but I'd be grateful for support from others who know the specific challenges that stem from this type of restricted breathing. 

My ultimate goal is to build a support group that can travel together and nurture each other. I envision outdoor adventures and laughter. 

Best of wishes to all of you for continued healing -

Julie

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turtleman0802
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2013

Hello Julie I just found this place today and it is nice.

turtleman0802's picture
turtleman0802
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2013

Hello Julie I just found this place today and it is nice.

JustAnnie
Posts: 12
Joined: Dec 2010

I had just given up to sounding like Lana Turner for the rest of my life...... Then about a year later, my voice as I remembered it, came back.  I would sing (in the shower only as I do not have a great voice lol) the do re mi fa so la...  I could only do the do re mi and nothing more for range.  Then after a long time, it finally came back. Now I am happily singing (still only in the shower ;)) anything I want to!

bapmfp
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2013

I had surgery two weeks ago to remove half of my thyroid. They found papillary cancer in 2 nodules. Luckily it was encapsulated and early stage. I do not need to have any further treatment for cancer at this time. My voice however is a different story. I had a hoarse voice from the beginning and over the past 2 weeks I found out that my right vocal cord is not moving. I will have a test next week to find out how much nerve damage has been done. I am wondering how the voice improves over time. Is it week to week or month to month? My doctor said it could take months to improve, but they are not sure. The doctor is sure the nerve was not cut, but was propabaly stretched. I am not having any problems breathing or swallowing.

Tell me what to expect, especially the time factor, as my voice improves (hopefully)  

JustAnnie
Posts: 12
Joined: Dec 2010

In my experience, my voice was deep and monotone.  My family members wouldn't know who I was when I called them!  I had a total throidectomy. Turned out after biopsy results came back, I had papillary cancer on both sides, stage 1. I began to feel my voice was going to be permenant.  I was told it will come back as there was no damage done, just swelling.... It was almost a year and it seemed as if it came back suddenly.  Just had to be patient.  Since I work in customer service, I was pretty self conscious about it but nothing I could do.  My voice was flat and weak.  If I tried to raise the level, it felt very strained.  But like I said, it came back good as ever.  It just took a very long time, I did not notice any improvement even from month to month, sorry. Good Luck!

Jane16131
Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2013

Are you serious?  The surgeon obviously found cancer around the nerve to your voice box and is doing his best to rid you of this disease.  It makes me mad that you are even asking whether he might be liable in some way.   Just saying..................

mstein9922
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2013

Thyroidectomy in 2008. Voice cuts out or I have to clear my throat alot. That's not good or fun when you give sales pitches for a living. BUT I can hit high notes better (almost Steve Perry like) than I could before.   Now if only I didn't sing off key  :-)

There's good and bad to everything.  Look for the good and minimize or compensate for the bad. Although I would NEVER sing the high notes for anyone else, I sound amazing to ME singing in the car!  :-) 'Don't Stop Believin!

 

 

mstein9922
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2013

Thyroidectomy in 2008. Voice cuts out or I have to clear my throat alot. That's not good or fun when you give sales pitches for a living. BUT I can hit high notes better (almost Steve Perry like) than I could before.   Now if only I didn't sing off key  :-)

There's good and bad to everything.  Look for the good and minimize or compensate for the bad. Although I would NEVER sing the high notes for anyone else, I sound amazing to ME singing in the car!  :-) 'Don't Stop Believin!

 

 

turtleman0802's picture
turtleman0802
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2013

I wish I could sing like I did before surgery. I sound likee Louis Armstrong after teaching 20 mins of sunday school. But hey still alive after five years being diagnosed stage 4.Best of luck to you!

Zippertootsie's picture
Zippertootsie
Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2013

Hi All!

I wish I had found this site years ago. I had my surgery for Thyroid Cancer in Sept. 2003. I was told there was a possibility of issues with talking. After reading the responses and experiences from fellow survivors, I finally did not feel so alone and isolated. Many of the after symptomes described here I have....difficulty projecting my voice, certains sounds being difficult to produce accurately, inability to sing in tune anymore, difficulty swallowing, choking episodes, etc. I have learned to live with these after effects,but I still wish that one day I will wake up and be "normal" again! I do try to keep in mind that although i have these difficulties and they have not gotten better through the years ( perhaps a bit worse) I am still living....and that is a big plus! But I have withdrawn a lot because of the difficulties with lack of ease talking, especially to strangers and on the phone. I finally got a part time job but i work with the public and often customers I don't know suggest that I am sick and should be home in bed. I have felt a certain discrimination unfortunately. It does sadden and sometimes angers me, however I try to educate them and explain, but wish I did not have to.

Thank you for "listening " to me!

Missy757525
Posts: 2
Joined: May 2013

I have to say I'm going through the same affects of the surgery. My 3 daughters make fun of me- my voice has a deeper sound to it- almost as develop as my husbands. An aunt of mine said that she hopes I keep my may west voice- I hate it. People don't recognize my voice anymore either. Howe do you deal Edith it.

sarah99
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2013

I had a total thyroidectomy in Oct 2011 and by about April 2012 my voice was improving and eventually returned to normal. When I had a follow-up with my surgeon in November 2011, he told me my voice was permanently damaged, but I went to see an ENT, and he said there's no way to know if damage is permanent until after about 9 months or so (and this is just for my case, which was likely the superior laryngeal nerve). While I was having voice problems, I'd lose my voice by the end of the day and it took a lot of effort to speak. I couldn't project, and I couldn't sing, and it was exhausting to talk. When I'd try to raise my voice, it would sound like a kazoo. Apparently it can just take time sometimes. My concern now is that it looks like my cancer is back and they will want to do another surgery, and I feel like I just scraped by with my voice the first time. Has anyone had multiple thyroid-area surgeries?

turtleman0802's picture
turtleman0802
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2013

It's been five years since my surgery. My voice never completly recovered. Lost the higher range of my singing voice.  Still have cancer...still alive praise theLORD.

candid
Posts: 16
Joined: Mar 2014

hello everyone

i had surgery 5.5 years ago and my voice did not return to its pre-op levels. It was pretty bad right after the surgery, hoarse and like whispering, hardly loud enough to be heard. My ENt had said one vocal cord was not moving but it was going to be okay.. well it took it 1.5 years to gradually become at a "normal" level - normal means something hearable...

i cannot sing or scream, but I can at least laugh now - i was not able to laugh either in the first few years after the surgery.

of note, my ENt never mentioned about speech therapy; I am also happy to see here there are other treatment options, such as the vocal cord transplant. looks like there are things to help improve it.

candid

 

bouncer
Posts: 27
Joined: Apr 2012

Prior to my operation, I was given a full run through of all of the problems that might occur during surgery. Before the operation could go ahead, I also had to sign a consent form, that repeated those warnings. This is standard for the UK National Health Service, and no operation will go ahead without this. As far as I was concerned, the loss of voice or needing to take calcium tablets for life was of little consequence - I wanted the cancer out.

Baldy's picture
Baldy
Posts: 225
Joined: Mar 2011

You have to sign a consent form in the US too, {lawyer requirement here, there too I bet,} which also lists the possible side effects and complications.  The difference is if you don't ask questions they don't volunteer anything, at least my surgeon didn't.  I'm not sure, for me it was over three years ago, but I think the possible para-thyroid / calcium complication was explained without me asking.

Alan

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