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