20 year with breathing trouble!!!!

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Dear Doctor I have a 20 year old daughter that was in a near fatal ATV accident on March 20th of this year. She was in a coma for 6 days and had a server TBI and stopped breathing. She was Intubated at the trauma center and upon awakening she had NO voice. They took her for exploratory surgery and the DR came out and said if she were an opera singger her career would be over! She no vocal cords in the pictures he gave me. The vocal cords have come back but they were first paralyzed 1/2 open and 1/2 closed making coughing up phlem and even breathing has been a problem. She is now pregnant (not planned) and her ENT says that the VC are now closing all the way but they will not open all the way and she does not know why. I am worried as the pregnancy goes on she will get worse and worse. We are very blessed she is as together as she is with the injuries she sustained but I sure would feel better if someone could tell us what we can do. Do you think it could be built up scar tissue and if so can a surgeon remove it or will that leave her with more problems. She was in nursing school before all this happened. Can you please tell me what we should do!! Thank you so very much for your time!! Kristin Sholaya

James P Thomas MD's picture
Submitted by James P Thomas MD on Sat, 2012-04-07 12:39

The most important distinction a laryngologist can make after an intubation injury is whether nerves have been paralyzed or whether scar tissue has been created. Both fixation and paralysis can visually appear the same as both types of injury can prevent movement of the vocal cords, but are treated differently. Typically the laryngologist will need to topically anesthetize the vocal cords and pass their endoscope between them to see whether there is scar tissue present at the back side and underneath the vocal cords. I do list a number of physicians interested in vocal cord problems on this website. You may see them by clicking on "Home: physicians”.