Neurosarcoidosis Presenting Initially as Idiopathic Vocal Cord Paralysis

Tara J. Wu, Sean M. Lewis, Peak Woo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: The presentation, course, and management of a rare laryngeal manifestation of neurosarcoidosis due to central nervous system (as opposed to peripheral nervous system) injury are described. Methods: The authors present 3 cases of vocal cord paralysis as the initial symptom of isolated neurosarcoidosis at a tertiary care laryngology clinic. Results: Laryngoscopy diagnosed unilateral vocal cord paralysis. Laryngeal electromyography revealed high vagal injury, prompting workup on brain magnetic resonance imaging. On magnetic resonance imaging, 2 cases showed basilar leptomeningeal inflammation and 1 case showed a brainstem mass. Patients were found at follow-up to have severe, progressive vagal injury, with patients developing severe quality of life impairments and medical complications. Conclusions: Neurosarcoidosis is not usually considered in the differential diagnosis of vocal cord paralysis. At initial presentation, all patients lacked other cranial neuropathies and systemic sarcoidosis manifestations, making diagnosis difficult. Otolaryngologists should be aware of this rare presentation, as prompt diagnosis by brain magnetic resonance imaging with or without central nervous system biopsy, as opposed to traditional chest radiography or computed tomography for the workup of peripheral nerve injury, is necessary. Serial laryngeal examinations are recommended for close monitoring of progressive disease and recommending treatment. Injection or medialization laryngoplasty can provide improvements in voicing but not swallow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-161
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • bilateral vocal cord paralysis
  • laryngology
  • laryngoplasty
  • neurosarcoidosis
  • unilateral vocal cord paralysis
  • vagal injury


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