Voice difficulties following slide tracheoplasty

The vocal cords sit in your voice box (larynx) at the top of your windpipe (trachea). To make voice, the two vocal cords come together and vibrate.  As the air coming up from your lungs passes through the vibrating vocal cords, sound is made.

After having a breathing tube a child’s voice can sound quieter or huskier than normal.  This usually gets better within a couple of days.  A Speech and Language Therapist will check your child’s voice at the same time as they check swallowing. 

The major nerve that causes the vocal cords to move is called the recurrent laryngeal nerve.  This travels the length of the windpipe.  As a result the nerve can get damaged during surgery to the windpipe.  Very occasionally we have found children have a vocal cord palsy after a slide tracheoplasty.  This is where the recurrent laryngeal nerve has been damaged and means one of the vocal cords doesn’t move properly.  This can lead to the voice sounding quiet and a little husky which doesn’t get better after a couple of days.  For more information about diagnosing and treating vocal cord palsy click here (link to vocal cord bit on website).