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The larynx is your voice box and laryngoscopy means examination of the larynx with the help of a scope. The diagnostic test helps to assess problems associated with the throat which might lead to change in voice, problem in swallowing, etc.


How is the laryngoscopy performed?

There are two types of laryngoscopy:

Direct laryngoscopy

It’s also known as flexible or rigid laryngoscopy as per the type of the scope used. With this technique your doctor is able to view your throat deeper. Flexible laryngoscopes are much easier to handle while rigid scopes are employed during surgery or biopsy and is performed under general anesthesia. The flexible scope is inserted through the nose and is directed to the larynx.


Indirect laryngoscopy

Different instruments employed to view your vocal chords are mirror or optically enhanced laryngoscopes and video laryngoscopes. In a traditional technique, your doctor will wear a headgear having a very bright light which will help viewing your throat while inserting the handheld mirror device.


Why is laryngoscopy performed?

  • To check the larynx for sore throat, ear pain, trouble in swallowing
  • To diagnose for changes in voice- weak voice, hoarseness, absence of voice 
  • In case of chronic cough and inflammation
  • To check for presence of blockage in throat
  • To evaluate causes behind narrowing of the throat
  • To check for injuries inside the throat
  • Diagnostic test for tumor or cancer in throat and also for removing polyps and tumors (rigid laryngoscopy)


How to prepare for the test?

Indirect laryngoscopy is a simple procedure and your doctor will perform it after examining your symptoms. If you are wearing dentures then you must remove them.

Your doctor will perform a physical exam followed by CT scan or X ray of your chest. If your doctor considers performing direct laryngoscopy then you must let him know about your history of medical conditions, the medicines that you might be taking (especially blood thinners), if you are allergic to anything, had an oral or throat surgery (or any other surgery or treatment) or any other important information that your doctor might need to know.

Also tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning for a baby.

You cannot drink or eat anything at least 8 hours before undergoing rigid laryngoscopy.


What happens during the procedure?

While undergoing indirect laryngoscopy, you have to sit on a chair at your doctor’s chamber. Take your tongue out and then you doctor will view your throat with the device. You might be given local anesthesia if you have gag response.

Since flexible scopes are inserted via the nose your doctor will use medicines to dry up secretions of the nose and throat for a better clarity and topical anesthesia will be applied on your throat to reduce discomfort. The anesthetic will taste bitter if your doctor is spraying inside your throat.

Rigid laryngoscopy is performed under general anesthesia and you should urinate before the test. You will not sense any pain during the procedure.


What to expect after the test

Your nurse will observe you unless you recover completely from the effect of anesthesia and you are able to swallow. Your doctor will give you a diet depending upon your potential to swallow.

You might be advised to not talk for a certain period to allow proper recovery of your voice box.

Risks associated with laryngoscopy

  • Bleeding after biopsy
  • Swelling of air passages
  • Inflammation of epiglottis 
Call for emergency if you experience complications after going home

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: October 28, 2014