Vocal Cord Dysfunction (VCD) Tests and Treatments

At the Vocal Cord Dysfunction Center at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we take a holistic approach to VCD.

We diagnose and treat not just VCD symptoms, but also conditions that make it worse. These include allergies, GERD, and infections.


Contact the Vocal Cord Dysfunction Center

To learn more or book an appointment for your child's VCD, call 412-692-5460.


Testing for VCD

If your child needs testing for VCD, we will explain the test in detail to you and your child before starting. We will also talk to you about the results on the same day.

Our center uses child-friendly equipment to help testing seem less scary.

Flexible laryngoscopy

With this test, the doctor passes a thin, flexible scope through your child's nose and down their throat.

The scope has a tiny light and camera, so the doctor can see the inside of the throat and the voice box. It also lets the doctor see the movement of the vocal cords as your child breathes.

Your child will be fully awake and not need anesthesia.

The test doesn't hurt but can cause some discomfort. The doctor may use a cream that numbs the inside of the nose.

Exercise pulmonary function test for VCD

For children who have VCD symptoms with exercise, this test helps doctors learn how severe they are.

A lung doctor will ask your child to breathe in and out of a mouthpiece. The machine measures how much air your child inhales and exhales, and the force of the breath.

Next, they'll have your child walk or jog on a treadmill for about 5 to 10 minutes. Once your child's heart rate is high enough, they will breathe into the machine again.

The doctor then compares the results before and during exercise.

The test can also help diagnose or rule out asthma, which exercise can also trigger. Asthma affects breathing out while VCD affects breathing in.

VCD Treatments at UPMC Children's Hospital

Our team aims to greatly reduce your child's symptoms of VCD and its impact on their life. We use the following treatment approaches.

Managing other health issues and triggers

We diagnose and treat any conditions that may be causing your child's VCD symptoms, such as allergies or GERD.

We can also help you and your child find out what triggers their VCD symptoms, such as:

  • Allergens
  • Chemicals
  • Stress
  • Exercise

This will help your child avoid anything that triggers their VCD. We can also guide you on ways your child can stay active without causing VCD symptoms.

Speech therapy

Our speech therapists help dozens of kids with VCD each year.

We'll teach your child breathing exercises that will keep their vocal cords relaxed and open.

Your child will also learn how to prevent VCD symptoms and control them when they do occur.

Make Your Child's Appointment at the Vocal Cord Dysfunction Center

To learn more or book an appointment for your child's VCD, call 412-692-5460.