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Idiopathic ulcerative laryngitis


  • Poster presentation at the American Laryngological Association, Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meeting, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A., April 28–May 2, 2010.

  • The authors have no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.



Idiopathic ulcerative laryngitis (IUL) is a distinct, clinical entity that presents after a prolonged upper respiratory infection with cough. It is characterized by the development of bilateral ulcerations of the mid-membranous vocal folds followed by a protracted course of healing. The purpose of this review was to characterize the typical patient presentation, clinical findings, and prognosis.

Study Design:

Multi-institutional retrospective review


Retrospective review of charts and videostroboscopic exams from patients with IUL at eight institutions.


Fifteen cases met the criteria for IUL and were included in the study. The mean age of the patients was 49 years, and 93% were female. All patients were nonsmokers. Multiple medical interventions were employed by the treating otolaryngologist during the course of the disease, none of which resulted in acute resolution of the ulcerations. The average time from initial presentation to resolution of the disease was 3.3 months. All of the patients reported that their voice was improved after resolution of the disease process. However, in the majority of the patients (60%) there were persistent vibratory abnormalities after resolution of the ulcerations.


This is the first multi-institutional study to define the complete disease course of IUL and to establish diagnostic criteria. IUL is a rare yet well-recognized clinical entity; however, there is no established etiology for this condition and no definitive treatments have emerged. Further study is needed to establish the etiology/risk factors of this condition and to determine optimal medical management.

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