Q: Dr. Eppley, I am a church choir singer. Would a tracheal shave operation affect my voice?

A: The concern about the impact of tracheal shave surgery on one’s voice is common. Whether it be a singer or radio announcer this is an understandable concern as air passes through the voice  box. Everyone knows what their own voice ounds like and no one really wants to have their voice changed if it is integral to their profession.

Tracheal shave surgery should not and has not affected patient’s voices in my experience in the voice-sensitive patient population. But it is one of the known risks of the procedure because one is operating on the voice box. (thyroid cartilage) The key to avoiding that risk is to not get too aggressive. Too much cartilage reduction could theoretically weaken the paired thyroid cartilages thus theoretically changing the tension on the vocal cords. This is avoided by being more conservative and not trying to make the prominence of the Adam’s Apple completely flat. The thyroid cartilages need to maintain some integrity to support the internal attachments of the vocal cords. The risk is not of voice cord avulsion but of loss of cartilaginous support.

Dr. Barry Eppley
Indianapolis, Indiana