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If you have difficulty speaking or swallowing related to an injury or medical condition, you’ll find the care and support you need at University of Missouri Health Care.

The ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists at MU Health Care provide comprehensive treatment for voice and swallowing disorders and diseases of the larynx, pharynx and throat. 

Voice and swallowing conditions we treat

We treat the following conditions: 

  • Swallowing difficulties. Swallowing disorders — also called dysphagia — can be caused by a variety of issues. These issues include:
    • Cancers
    • Esophageal dysfunction, such as zenker diverticulum or cricopharyngeal dysfunction
    • Esophageal strictures or narrowing
    • Radiation to the neck
    • Surgery
    • Trauma or injury to the neck
    • Other rare neurologic issues, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease and more.
  • Voice disorders. These conditions affect the sound, volume and pitch of your voice. These disorders include:
    • Diseases of the lungs
    • Inflammation or swollen vocal cords (usually due to reflux or smoking)
    • Nodules or polyps on the vocal cords 
    • Paradoxical vocal fold movement 
    • Paralysis of the vocal cords 
    • Spasmodic or muscle tension dysphonia 
    • Weakness of the vocal cords in response to aging
  • Difficulty breathing. Sometimes, difficulty breathing is not only caused by lung problems. The problem can be in your trachea or larynx. 
  • Tracheotomy. A surgical procedure in which an incision is made in your neck to bypass an obstruction in your airway and restore your breathing. We can work toward removing the tracheostomy tube together.
  • Cancer of the larynx. A type of cancer that occurs in the voice box.

Treatment options for voice and swallow disorders

We offer multiple tailored surgeries and interventions to help improve your swallowing.

  • Botox therapy. Your doctor may inject Botox into your upper esophagus to stop or slow esophageal squeezing that causes some swallowing disorders. 
  • Dilation. During dilation, your doctor will insert a tube with a light and a balloon at the end into your throat. He or she will guide the tube into your esophagus and expand the balloon to reduce narrowing in the esophagus. 
  • Medications. Certain medicines can help relax the esophagus muscle to decrease swallowing issues. 
  • Surgery. When less invasive treatment options do not help, surgery may be your best option for restored or improved voice or swallowing function. Surgery can:
    • Make adjustments to the esophagus or other organs whose dysfunction is causing voice and swallowing problems 
    • Reduce narrowing in the throat that leads to swallowing problems 
    • Remove cancerous tumors
    • Remove vocal cord nodules or polyps 
  • Swallow therapy. We work with a specialized speech-language pathologist to evaluate your swallowing to develop an individualized plan to treat your swallowing problem

We also offer multiple tailored interventions and surgery to help improve your voice and breathing.

  • Voice therapy. A licensed speech-language pathologist (therapist) will work with you to make lifestyle changes and vocal adjustments to improve hoarseness and promote healing of the vocal cords and voice box. We also have specialized voice therapists to help the professional voice user gain full use of the voice.  
  • Injection medialization. We can use fillers to plump up the vocal cords and help improve your voice. 
  • Botox therapy. Botox can be injected into the muscles of the larynx to help relax the voice box and improve the voice. 
  • Surgery to widen the airway. Using specialized endoscopic laser instruments, we can widen the airway when it has been narrowed from scar tissue. Occasionally we do surgery to remove the narrowed segment when less invasive management options have not helped.