Purpose of review: Glottic insufficiency secondary to vocal fold scarring, atrophy, or paresis remains a clinically challenging problem for the laryngologist. Numerous methods have been described in the treatment of glottic insufficiency, belying the complexity of the problem. Type I thyroplasty and injection of fat, fascia, and gelatin powder have been the mainstay of treatment to date, but the ability to restore a normal mucosal waveform to a damaged vocal fold remains an elusive goal.
Recent findings: Advances in the material and biomedical sciences have allowed the introduction of newer substances and techniques not only to medialize the vocal fold but also to help restore its viscoelastic properties as well. These substances include expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE), collagen, cross-linked hyaluronic acid, micronized acellular human dermis calcium hydroxyapatite, and polydimethylsiloxane. ePTFE can be introduced through a window in the thyroid ala or placed intracordally, and the others can be injected either transorally or transcutaneously, allowing in-office placement under simple topical anesthesia.
Summary: Although the ideal augmentation material and technique have yet to be devised, the laryngologist now has several options with which to address the problem of glottic insuffiency. Since the problem is complex and since it is possible that a customized solution may need to be devised on an individual basis, future laryngologists will need to be comfortable with the indications and applications that each material and technique will afford.