Dr. Burns is a surgeon at the MGH Center for Laryngeal Surgery who specializes in voice disorders, laryngeal cancer, and airway reconstruction. He has developed a national and international reputation in clinical care and laryngeal research.


Laryngeal Surgery


Centers & Specialties

Cancer Center

Clinical Interests
  • Dysplasia and pre-cancerous vocal fold lesions
  • Performing and professional voice
  • Laryngeal papilloma (RRP)
  • Vocal fold paralysis
  • Laryngeal stenosis
  • Laser surgery
  • Laryngeal microsurgery
  • Airway and larynx surgery
  • Laryngology / Voice
  • Spasmodic dysphonia
  • Office-based laser laryngeal surgery
  • Laryngeal Surgery
Medical Education
  • MD, University of Virginia School of Medicine
  • Residency, University of Virginia Health System
  • Fellowship, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary
Board Certifications
  • Otolaryngology
  • Boston: Massachusetts General Hospital
Existing Patients
Patient Gateway
Insurances Accepted
  • Aetna Health Inc.
  • AllWays Health (NHP) - ACD
  • AllWays Health (NHP) - PBO
  • Beech Street
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Blue Care 65
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Indemnity
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Managed Care
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield - Partners Plus
  • BMC HealthNet Mass Health MCO/ACO
  • Cigna (PAL #'s)
  • Commonwealth Care Alliance
  • Fallon Community HealthCare
  • Great-West Healthcare (formally One Health Plan)
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan - ACD
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan - PBO
  • Health Care Value Management (HCVM)
  • Humana/Choice Care PPO
  • MassHealth
  • Medicare
  • Medicare - ACD
  • OSW - Connecticut
  • OSW - Maine
  • OSW - New Hampshire
  • OSW - New York
  • OSW - Rhode Island
  • OSW - Vermont
  • Private Health Care Systems (PHCS)
  • Railroad Medicare
  • Senior Whole Health
  • TriCare
  • Tufts Health Plan
  • Unicare
  • United Healthcare (non-HMO) - ACD
  • United Healthcare (non-HMO) - PBO
  • Well Sense Pediatrics

Note: This provider may accept more insurance plans than shown; please call the practice to find out if your plan is accepted.

Patient Age Group
Provider Gender


Dr. James Burns is a laryngeal surgeon at MGH's Voice Center. He specializes in treatment of laryngeal diseases with emphasis on medical and surgical management of voice and swallowing disorders. He teaches Harvard Medical School students and co-directs the laryngeal surgery fellowship program at MGH. He also lectures extensively at several Boston music conservatories.

Dr. Burns has been elected to Castle Connelly's "Best Doctors in America" and Boston Magazine's "Top Docs" every year since 2010.

Dr. Burns is President of the American Bronchoesophagological Association and received the Broyles-Maloney award from the ABEA in 2014.

Dr. Burns received an Honor Award for meritorious service from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in 2013. Dr. Burns received his medical degree from the University of Virginia Medical School. He was inducted in the AOA medical honor society and was the recipient of the Gratton Alexander Litz Award for excellence on the medicine clerkship. He completed residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in 1996 at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Charlottesville, Virginia. His Fellowship in Laryngeal Surgery was completed in 2003 at MEEI. Dr. Burns served on active duty with the United States Air Force from 1996-2000. He served as medical director of the Otolaryngology service at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and received the Air Force Commendation Medal.


Research & Publications

Research Summary
Dr. Burns' research interests include pulsed-KTP laser surgery for benign and malignant laryngeal disease, vocal fold paralysis, and high-speed vocal fold imaging. He is interested in developing high-fidelity simulation models to teach office-based laryngeal surgery.

The voice center group, under the direction of Dr. Steven Zeitels and in collaboration with Dr. Rox Anderson, applied concepts of selective vessel ablation to develop a new paradigm in the treatment of epithelial laryngeal diseases such as papilloma and pre-cancerous dysplasia. The new treatment strategy was adapted to office-based surgery, allowing patients to avoid repeated general anesthetics. This treatment strategy is becoming widely adapted within the otolaryngologic community worldwide.

Dr. Burns'numerous clinical and research contributions have been featured in national peer-reviewed journals, and he has been a guest speaker at numerous U.S. institutions including Johns Hopkins, UPENN, The Cleveland Clinic, and Stanford University. He is a frequent lecturer internationally including presentations at prestigious meetings in Sydney,Seoul, Singapore, and Cairo.

View my most recent publications at PubMed

  • Burns JA, Kobler JB, Heaton JT, Anderson RR, Zeitels SM. Predicting Clinical Efficacy of Photoangiolytic and Cutting/Ablating Lasers Using the Chick Chorioallantoic Membrane Model: Implications for Endoscopic Voice Surgery. Laryngoscope 2008; 118(6): 1109-1124.
  • Friedman AD, Hillman RE, Landau-Zemer T, Burns JA, Zeitels SM. Voice Outcomes  for Photoangiolytic KTP Laser Treatment of Early Glottic Cancer. Ann Otol Rhinol  Laryngology 2013; 122: 151-158.
  • Barbu AM, Burns JA, Lopez-Guerra G, Landau-Zemer T, Friedman AD, Zeitels SM. Salvage Endoscopic Angiolytic KTP Laser Treatment of Early Glottic Cancer After Failed Radiotherapy. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 2013; 122: 235-239.
  • Best SM, Kobler JB, Friedman AD, Barbu AM, Zeitels SM, Burns JA. Effect of Mandibular Tori on Glottic Exposure During Simulated Suspension Microlaryngoscopy.  Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 2014; 123: 188-194.
  • Zeitels SM, Burns JA. Oncologic Efficacy of Angiolytic KTP Laser Treatment of Early Glottic Cancer.  Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 2014; (e-pub).
  • Ainsworth TA, Kobler JB, Loan GJ, Burns JA. Simulation Model for Transcervical Laryngeal Injection Providing Real-time Feedback.  Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 2014; (e-pub).
  • Burns JA. (2014).  American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, Home Study Course, Section 6 - Laryngology, Voice Disorders and Bronchoesophagology, Section Editor


Center for Laryngeal Surgery
One Bowdoin Square
11th Floor
Boston, MA 02114-2927
Phone 1: 617-726-1444
Phone 2: 617-726-0218
Fax: 617-726-0222