Reinke’s edema is a thickening of the vocal folds with a deposit of a gelatinous substance. Reinke’s edema usually occurs on both vocal folds. The thickening causes the vocal folds to vibrate more slowly and irregularly during vocalization, resulting in a deep and harsh vocal sound. If vocal function is too disturbed by this, surgical treatment is required. Reinke’s edema is one of the common voice disorders.
If there is an indication for surgery, it is usually performed under general anesthesia. In the case of large bilateral edemas, two or more operations may be necessary. After professional removal of the edema, breathing and voice improve. The voice no longer sounds so rough and strained. It usually becomes somewhat brighter, but the individual voice tone does not usually change significantly.
Reinke’s edema is characterized by abundant interstitial (betweeen cells) storage of a gelatinous mass directly under the surface membrane of the vocal fold (this area under the epithelium is called lamina propria or Reinke’s space). The additional mass of the vocal fold causes slower vibrations – the voice sounds rough and especially female voices may be perceived as male voices.