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Keith Urban's Surgery For Vocal Cord Polyp: What Is A Polyp?

Keith Urban Surgery

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 11/28/11 03:50 PM ET Updated: 11/29/11 06:09 PM ET

Country music star Keith Urban has successfully undergone surgery for removal of a vocal cord growth called a polyp, Reuters reported. The singer had announced earlier this month that he would be postponing some performances because of the polyp.

As a result of the surgery, Urban can't speak for the next three weeks, Reuters reported.

Urban joins what seems to be a rash of other high-profile singers who have also had to cancel or postpone shows and receive treatment for vocal cord injuries. British singer Adele canceled her U.S. tour because she had a vocal cord hemorrhage, and John Mayer had to cancel appearances and postpone work on his album because of the throat condition granuloma.

But it's not likely that there's some new epidemic of vocal cord injuries -- rather, these sorts of injuries are very common among singers and other people who use their voices a lot (like teachers, trial attorneys, even moms!), said Dr. David Rosow, assistant professor of otolaryngology at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Smoking can also cause or aggravate polyps, according to the New York University Voice Center.

"It's kind of like when three celebrities die [in a short period of time], and people think it's something," Rosow told HuffPost. "We laryngologists see these problems all the time. But when you have a number of high-profile people having sugary all at once, it calls attention to it."

Polyps in particular can happen to anyone since they are caused by vocal cord overuse and stress, he said. Continued overuse can also aggravate them and make them worse.

Polyps grow on the vocal cords in different forms, with some big, some small, some appearing like a bump, some appearing like a blister and some appearing like a "stalk-like growth," according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Symptoms of a vocal cord polyp include the feeling that there is a lump in your throat, hoarseness or breathiness, pain, voice fatigue and a rough or scratchy voice, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association reported.

Laryngoscopy (where a device is inserted down the throat so that a doctor can see the throat and voice box) is often used to diagnose polyps, according to the New York University Voice Center.

A doctor may recommend voice rest to help relieve hoarseness in people with polyps, but that alone won't make the polyp go away, according to VoiceMedicine.com. Surgery is usually required to remove the polyp.

Rosow said that proper vocal training, as well as avoiding known aggravating factors like smoking, can help prevent polyps from developing.

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