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Laryngoscopy

Laryngoscopy is an examination that lets your doctor look at the back of your throat, your voice box (larynx) camera.gif, and vocal cords with a scope (laryngoscope). There are two types of laryngoscopy, and each uses different equipment.

Indirect laryngoscopy

Indirect laryngoscopy is done in a doctor's office using a small hand mirror held at the back of the throat. Your doctor shines a light in your mouth and wears a mirror on his or her head to reflect light to the back of your throat. Some doctors now use headgear with a bright light.

Indirect laryngoscopy is not done as much now because flexible laryngoscopes let your doctor see better and are more comfortable for you.

Direct fiber-optic (flexible or rigid) laryngoscopy

Direct laryngoscopy lets your doctor see deeper into your throat. The scope is either flexible or rigid. Flexible scopes show the throat better and are more comfortable for you. Rigid scopes are often used in surgery.

Why It Is Done

An indirect or direct laryngoscopy helps a doctor:

  • Find the cause of voice problems, such as a breathy voice, hoarse voice, weak voice, or no voice.
  • Find the cause of throat and ear pain.
  • Find the cause for trouble swallowing, a feeling of a lump in the throat, or mucus with blood in it.
  • Check injuries to the throat, narrowing of the throat (strictures), or blockages in the airway.

Direct rigid laryngoscopy may be used as a surgical procedure to remove foreign objects in the throat, collect tissue samples (biopsy), remove polyps from the vocal cords, or perform laser treatment. Direct rigid laryngoscopy may also be used to help find cancer of the voice box (larynx).

How To Prepare

Indirect laryngoscopy and direct flexible laryngoscopy

If you wear dentures, you will remove them just before the examination.

Direct rigid laryngoscopy

Before a rigid laryngoscopy, tell your doctor if you:

  • Are allergic to any medicines, including anesthetics.
  • Are taking any medicines.
  • Have bleeding problems or take blood-thinning medicine, such as warfarin (Coumadin).
  • Have heart problems.
  • Are or might be pregnant.
  • Have had surgery or radiation treatments to your mouth or throat.

Rigid laryngoscopy is done with a general anesthetic. Do not eat or drink for 8 hours before the procedure. If you have this test in your doctor's office or at a surgery center, arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.

You will also be asked to sign a consent form. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 12, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

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