Reinke's oedema (RO) of the vocal folds is a condition of unknown aetiology. Cigarette smoking and vocal abuse may contribute to its development. Hypo thy roidism has been described as an aetiological factor but, to date, no controlled study has been published confirming this association. This prospective, controlled study compared thyroid function in 61 consecutive RO patients with an age and sex matched control group (n = 65) without laryngeal disease. Thyroid function was assessed by measuring serum thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3). Hypothyroidism was diagnosed when TSH was above normal with a T3 and T4 below the normal range.
Four RO patients were hypothyroid at the time of diagnosis, compared to five of the control group. Six RO patients had past or present hypothyroidism compared to seven of the controls. One RO patient and two controls were euthyroid with marginally elevated TSH levels. Although the incidence of hypothyroidism in this group of Reinke's oedema patients is higher than expected in a normal population, it is similar to that in an age and sex matched control group, reflecting the prevalence of hypothyroidism in middle aged women.
This study suggests that hypothyroidism is not an aetiological factor in the development of Reinke's oedema.