February 20, 2020

Catherine Rees Lintzenich, MD, FACS

Otolaryngology, Riverside Ear Nose & Throat Physicians & Surgeons


Throughout her life, Dr. Catherine Rees Lintzenich has focused on the voice. She grew up with a passion for singing in choirs and musicals, and today her advanced training and comprehensive treatment approaches are helping patients preserve their own vocal function. 

With fellowship training in Laryngology and Bronchoesophagology, Dr. Lintzenich is able to offer specialty care for complex voice and swallowing issues that sets her apart from most general ENT providers. 

Dr. Lintzenich also partners with a Riverside speech pathologist to offer a multi-disciplinary clinic for voice problems linked to a variety of causes, including inflammation from allergies or reflux, lesions such as polyps and nodules, vocal cord paralysis and cancer. In addition, she performs laser treatments for small vocal cord tumors, which can take the place of radiation. 

“Many people don’t realize the effectiveness of pairing good voice therapy with the correct surgical or medical interventions,” Dr. Lintzenich says. “Some patients even can see dramatic improvement without surgery. We’ve been very happy with the outcomes we’re seeing.” 

Based in Williamsburg, Dr. Lintzenich handles the gamut of common ENT concerns in both children and adults, such as ear and tonsil problems, hearing loss, tinnitus, and thyroid disorders and cancers. 

Other focus areas of care include laryngopharyngeal and gastroesophageal reflux disease, dysphagia, chronic cough and globus pharyngeus, or the sensation that a foreign body is stuck in the throat, which can be related to allergies, muscle spasms, anxiety or abnormal nerve sensations. 

“While we can’t always cure these disruptive conditions, we often can improve symptoms and have a significant impact on quality of life,” Dr. Lintzenich notes. 

No matter what the health issue, Dr. Lintzenich aims to partner with her patients on care decisions as much as possible. Patients, in turn, have rated her an average of 4.84 out of 5 stars on satisfaction reviews.  

“I just try to talk to each of them in a very straightforward manner,” she says. “I am open and honest – not only about what I know, but about what I don’t know. That way, we can have a good conversation on how to move forward.” 

A nationally-recognized speaker, Dr. Lintzenich also is committed to incorporating promising new treatments and knowledge into her practice. For example, emerging research suggests that the human papillomavirus may play a larger role in vocal cord cancers than once thought. 

If true, that could open the door to less aggressive treatments – allowing some patients to avoid chemotherapy or immediate surgery – and to potential use of the HPV vaccine for prevention. “In general, with any kind of head and neck cancer associated with HPV, patients have a better prognosis and we can stage the disease lower,” Dr. Lintzenich explains. 

Another developing advance is newer injectable materials for the treatment of vocal cord paralysis. To date, physicians mainly have relied on collagen and other substances frequently used in cosmetic procedures in order to plump up a paralyzed cord, which allow better closure of the vocal folds for sound production.   

“These different materials may last longer, and they also may not cause as much irritation,” Dr. Lintzenich reports. “It’s exciting that some better options might come out for my patients.” 

Born and raised in Newport News, Dr. Lintzenich earned a bachelor’s degree in public health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At the Wake Forest School of Medicine, she gravitated toward a surgical specialty because she enjoyed working with her hands. She also liked ENT’s balance of medical and surgical treatments. 

“Then I was introduced to a laryngologist there, and he was doing the most amazing procedures to help people with voice problems,” she recalls. “That really sealed the deal for me.” 

After graduation, Dr. Lintzenich completed a year-long internship in General Surgery and a four-year residency in Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, both at Wake Forest University Health Sciences. She followed that with her fellowship in Laryngology/Bronchoesophagology at the University of California, Davis.   

Before arriving at Riverside four years ago, Dr. Lintzenich provided subspecialty care and trained residents and medical students at Wake Forest School of Medicine for seven years, first as an Assistant Professor and then an Associate Professor. She held numerous faculty leadership posts and also served a term as President of the North Carolina Society of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery. 

Dr. Lintzenich is a frequent presenter at the American Academy of Otolaryngology’s annual meetings, and she has worked on multiple AAO committees: as a member of the Voice Committee, Airway and Swallowing Committee, and Education Steering Committee; as Co-Chair of the Laryngology Home Study Course Committee; and as Chair of the Laryngology/Bronchoesophagology Education Committee. 

Today, Dr. Lintzenich sits on the Board of Riverside Medical Group and heads the Surgical Clinical Practice Committee at Riverside Doctors’ Hospital in Williamsburg, where she moved to be closer to family after having her son, now 5. Her husband, Mike, is a charter boat fishing captain; outside of work, she likes to cook and explore historic sites with her family.

As for her own voice, Dr. Lintzenich still loves to sing, even if she doesn’t have enough time to perform in a choir at the moment. Through her work, however, she can help others regain their voices – or get back to doing whatever it is they love. 

“Having a healthy voice has always been so important to me,” she says. “So, having the chance to work with people who are struggling with theirs – or with any other ENT concerns – is just very gratifying.”