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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 2, No. 10 July-August 1997

The Throat Doctor

by Dr. Françoise P. Chagnon

Dear Dr. Chagnon
I have been diagnosed with a deviated septum. Is this condition serious? Will this condition worsen with time? Will surgery become necessary? As a singer, I am concerned about the effects of this condition and potential surgery on my vocal health my tone of voice and my singing. Finally, I would like to know how to deal with such surgery.

- François Carrier, Montreal.

Dear François,

The nasal septum is a bony and cartilagenous wall which divides the two nasal cavities. Deviations of the nasal septum from the midline are not uncommon. They may occur during growth or as a result of trauma to the nose.

Deviations of the nasal septum are of concern only if they obstruct the nasal air passageway or the openings to the sinuses. A deviated septum may lead to chronic sinusitis, post-nasal drip, ear blockage, or chronic sore throat. Though a deviated septum will not worsen with time, the associated conditions such as sinusitis may do so. The surgical procedure used to correct nasal obstruction and recurrent sinonasal infection caused by a deviated septum is called a septoplasty. This surgery does not require hospitalization. Your surgeon can advise on the appropriate type of anesthesia.

A septoplasty will not alter your vocal resonance. The benefits include normal nasal function and humidification of the larynx. The relief of nasal obstruction may be perceived by your vibrotactile sensory biofeedback. The sound may feel more symmetrically distributed in the midface area.

- Dr. Chagnon

Françoise P. Chagnon is the Director of the Voice Lab at the Montréal General Hospital

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