How It Is Done
Indirect laryngoscopy and direct flexible
laryngoscopy examinations are generally done in a doctor's office. Most
fiber-optic laryngoscopies are done by an
ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT). Some other
doctors may also do this examination, such as
family medicine doctors,
emergency medicine doctors,
critical care medicine specialists,
allergy specialists, and
pulmonologists. You may be awake for the
You will sit straight up in
a chair and stick out your tongue as far as you can. The doctor will hold your
tongue down with some gauze. This lets the doctor see your throat more clearly.
If you gag easily, the doctor may spray a numbing medicine (local anesthetic) into your throat to help with the
The doctor will hold a small mirror at the back of
your throat and shine a light into your mouth. He or she will wear a head
mirror to reflect the light to the back of your throat. Or your doctor may wear
headgear with a bright light hooked to it. He or she may ask you to make a
high-pitched "e-e-e-e" sound or a low-pitched "a-a-a-a" sound. Making these
noises helps the doctor see your vocal cords.
takes 5 to 10 minutes.
If a local (topical) anesthetic is used
during the examination, it will last about 30 minutes. You can eat or drink
when your throat is no longer numb.
Direct flexible laryngoscopy
The doctor will use a
thin, flexible scope to look at your throat. You may get a medicine to dry up
the secretions in your nose and throat. This lets your doctor see more clearly.
A topical anesthetic may be sprayed on your throat to numb it.
scope is put in your nose and then gently moved down into your throat. As the
scope is passed down your throat, your doctor may spray more medicine to keep
your throat numb during the examination. The doctor may also swab or spray a
medicine inside your nose that opens your nasal passages to give a better view
of your airway.
Direct rigid laryngoscopy
Before you have a rigid
laryngoscopy, remove all your jewelry, dentures, and eyeglasses. You will empty
your bladder before the examination. You will be given a cloth or paper gown to
Direct rigid laryngoscopy is done in a surgery room. You
will go to sleep (general anesthetic) and not feel the scope in your
You will lie on your back during this procedure. After you
are asleep, the rigid laryngoscope is put in your mouth and down your throat.
Your doctor will be able to see your voice box (larynx) and vocal cords.
The rigid laryngoscope may also be used to remove foreign objects in the
throat, collect tissue samples (biopsy), remove polyps from the vocal cords, or
perform laser treatment.
The examination takes 15 to 30 minutes.
You may get an ice pack to use on your throat to prevent swelling. After the
procedure, you will be watched by a nurse for a few hours until you are fully
awake and able to swallow.
- Do not eat or drink anything for about 2
hours after a laryngoscopy or until you are able to swallow without choking.
You can then start with sips of water. When you feel ready, you can eat a
- Do not clear your throat or cough hard for several
hours after the laryngoscopy.
- If your vocal cords were affected during the laryngoscopy, rest
your voice completely for 3 days.
- If you speak, do so in your
normal tone of voice and do not talk for very long. Whispering or shouting can
strain your vocal cords as they are trying to heal.
- You may sound
hoarse for about 3 weeks after the laryngoscopy if tissue was
- If nodules or other lesions were removed from your vocal
cords, you may have to follow total voice rest (no talking, whispering, or
making any other voice sounds) for up to 2 weeks.