Large, twisted capillaries induced to grow by radiation therapy

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Case study (multiple photos): Radiation telangiectasias. Many years ago this woman had a vocal cord cancer treated with radiation therapy. She has been a horse for the past 15 years. The dilated, tortuous capillaries visible on her vocal cords are very typical in form in nearly every one after radiation therapy treatments to the vocal cords. In this particular case she also has some white thickening in the center of the vocal cords, also called leukoplakia. Her hoarse voice is coming from the dilated capillaries which are on the edge of the vocal cord. They stick out and touch the opposite vocal cord when vibrating. This dampens the vocal cords, sometimes causing a double pitch. It also allows air to leak out between the capillaries.

Radiation telangiectasias are a common finding after radiation therapy. Usually they cause no problem and are merely cosmetic. When they are on the vibrating edge of the vocal cord, they can cause hoarseness.