Explore the Labs

About the Labs

Massachusetts General Hospital Voice Center Research Laboratories comprises four inter-dependent entities:

  • Voice acoustics / aerodynamics lab
  • Laryngeal high-speed video endoscopy lab
  • Laboratory for biomaterials and drug delivery
  • Surgical instrument prototyping facility

Over the past twenty years, team members of the Mass General Center for Laryngeal Surgery & Voice Rehabilitation have designed, developed and perfected many surgical procedures now currently in use to enhance the treatment of benign and malignant laryngeal and pharyngeal disease.

We have a long history of conducting research that is funded by governmental (National Institutes of Health) and private foundation sources to develop improved methods for preventing, diagnosing, and treating voice disorders, reflected by the list of innovations below. Much of this work is carried out in collaboration with leading scientists at:

Our Innovations

  • Fiber-based, laryngeal laser procedures for treatment of papillomatosis, premalignant/dysplasia, cancer, and vascular trauma:
    • Pulsed-dye-laser (PDL) and pulsed potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP) laser
    • Continuous wave (Thulium and KTP) lasers
    • Office-based laser surgery with local anesthesia
  • Endoscopic, minimally-invasive laryngeal cancer surgery designed specifically to restore and preserve voice and swallowing
  • Subepithelial resection of vocal cord nodules and polyps in professional speakers and singers including, educators, attorneys, clergy, sales personnel, politicians, and all performing vocal artists
  • New infusion techniques to enhance microsurgery of vocal cord lesions
  • Patented laryngoscopes for better exposure of the larynx during surgery, especially for voice procedures
  • Laryngeal framework surgical procedures to repair vocal cord movement disorders (paralysis/paresis/fixation) and thereby enhance voice function
  • New procedures to treat laryngotracheal stenosis with aortic homograft reconstruction
  • The book Atlas of Phonomicrosurgery to educate surgeons in state-of-the-art surgical techniques
  • Portable voice monitor with biofeedback to enhance diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders
  • Measures of "voice quality" from continuous speech to improve methods for assessing the impact of voice disorders and methods of treatment on vocal function
  • A new artificial electrolarynx to improve speech communication for laryngectomy patients

Research Projects

  • Injectable biomaterials to replace lost phonatory mucosa and restore vibration and vocal function to damaged (e.g., scarred) vocal cords, especially from cancer treatment
  • Novel laser treatment paradigms for benign and malignant vocal cord disease
  • Novel laser technologies for vocal cord scar ablation
  • Methods for minimizing laser thermal damage associated with laryngeal surgery
  • Aortic homograft reconstruction of laryngeal cancer defects and for treatment of laryngotracheal stenosis (in collaboration with Mass General's Division of Thoracic Surgery)
  • New technologies for quantitative/objective assessment of vocal function that can assist both the diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders including ongoing development of acoustic, high-speed imaging and ambulatory monitoring/biofeedback approaches
  • Intraoperative imaging of vocal cord pathology in patients with optical coherence tomography
  • Dynamic imaging of vocal cord motion with 4-D optical coherence tomography
  • Novel procedures to treat vocal cord paralysis
  • Neural prosthetics to improve disordered voice and speech production

See a list of our publications

Group Members

  • James A. Burns, MD, FACS
  • James T. Heaton, PhD
  • Robert E. Hillman, PhD, CCC-SLP (Research Director)
  • Sandeep S. Karajanagi, PhD
  • James B. Kobler, PhD
  • Daryush Mehta, PhD
  • Steven M. Zeitels, MD, FACS

Media Coverage

  • Vocal cord (glottic) cancer
    • ABC World News (April 2008)
    • NY Times Article (May 2008)
  • Recurrent Respiratory Papilloma (RRP)
    • ABC Word News Video (May 2009)
    • Good Morning America (ABC) (Dec 2009)
  • Vocal cord scarring (Biomaterial)
    • Mass General Voice Center research team wins prestigious Broyles-Maloney Award from the American Broncho-Esophagological Association (Apr 2010) (page 52)