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
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 difficulty in
swallowing, a feeling of a lump in the throat, or mucus with blood in
- 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
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
Your doctor will give you instructions about not eating or drinking
before the examination to prevent vomiting. 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
- Are taking any medicines.
- Have bleeding
problems or take blood-thinning medicine, such as warfarin
- Have heart problems.
- Are or might be
- Have had surgery or radiation treatments to your mouth or
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
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?).