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Bilateral Vocal Cord Paralysis

There are two types of vocal cord paralysis:

1. Both vocal cords do not move, called bilateral vocal cord paralysis
2. Only one vocal cord moves, called unilateral vocal cord paralysis

Bilateral Vocal Cord Paralysis usually happens for one of four reasons: nerve injury during a number of common surgeries, pressure on the nerves from a tumor growing next to them, stroke or other brain injury, or inflammation that stops the nerves from working, usually attributed to viral infection. There are dozens of other less common causes.

Bilateral paralysis is almost always the result of an iatrogenic injury - meaning that it is caused inadvertently by a physician. Thyroid surgery or parathyroid surgery which are often performed on both sides of the neck can injure both recurrent laryngeal nerves. Also, after a tube has been in the windpipe to breath (an intubation such as for anesthesia), the inflated cuff of the ballon on the end of the tube will uncommonly injure both recurrent laryngeal nerves where they enter the inside of the larynx.


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