- Indirect laryngoscopy—uses mirrors to examine the larynx and hypopharynx, which is a portion of the passageway to the lungs and stomach
- Direct laryngoscopy—uses a special instrument, most often a flexible scope
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Reasons for Procedure
- To assist in intubation to help with breathing for surgery or serious illness
- To diagnose the cause of a persistent cough, bloody cough, hoarseness, throat pain, or bad breath
- To evaluate reasons for difficulty swallowing
- To evaluate a possible cause for persistent earache
- To remove a foreign object
- To visualize a mass in the throat
- To biopsy tissue inside the throat
- To remove polyps inside the throat
- Vomiting and gagging
- Excessive swelling or bleeding
- Cuts on the bottom of the tongue from stretching it over the teeth
- Bleeding from the nose if the scope is passed through the nose
- Anesthesia-related problems
- Breathing problems from swelling
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
- Physical exam
- Chest x-ray
- Barium swallow —a series of x-rays of the larynx and esophagus
- CT scan —to make pictures of the inside of the body
- Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure if a general anesthetic or sedation is given.
- If you will have general anesthesia, you will probably be told not to eat or drink anything for eight hours before the exam. For office procedures under local anesthesia, there is no need to fast.
Description of the Procedure
How Long Will It Take?
Will It Hurt?
- Do not smoke for 24 hours after the procedure. Smoke irritates the throat.
- Do not try to swallow until your gag reflex returns. Spit out saliva and secretions. The gag reflex should return in about two hours. At this time, throat lozenges or a liquid gargle will help decrease hoarseness and throat irritation. Drinking water is encouraged.
- If a biopsy was taken, avoid clearing your throat or coughing.
Call Your Doctor
- Increasing pain
- Coughing up, spitting out, or vomiting blood
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Hoarse voice
- Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entnet.org
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation http://www.cdhf.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Laryngoscopy. Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/surgery/laryngoscopy.html. Updated March 2013. Accessed May 23, 2014.
Laryngoscopy and biopsy. NetDoctor website. Available at: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/surgical-procedures/laryngoscopy-and-biopsy.htm. Updated July 6, 2009. Accessed May 23, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014 -
- Update Date: 05/23/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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