Laryngoscopy

Laryngoscopy is an exam that lets Drs. Chapman, Anderson or Ballinger see the back of your throat, your voice box (larynx), and vocal cords using a tool called a Laryngoscope. A Laryngoscopy will be performed for the following reasons:

  • to find the cause of voice problems, such as breathy, hoarse, weak or no voice
  • to find the cause of pain in your throat or ear
  • to find the cause for problems such as difficulty in swallowing, a lump in the throat feeling, or bloody mucus
  • to check injuries to the throat
  • to check for breathing difficulties such as narrowing of the throat or blockages in the airway

There are two different types of laryngoscopy – Indirect and Direct.

Indirect Laryngoscopy

This procedure is done in the office using a small hand held mirror at the back of your throat. You will be asked to sit up straight, stick out your tongue and possibly make some eee or ahhh sounds while Drs. Chapman, Anderson or Ballinger shines a light in your mouth to reflect the light to the back of your throat. Advances in technology have made this type of procedure less common. We most often use a flexible laryngoscope instead which lets us see your throat better and it’s more comfortable for you.

Direct Laryngoscopy

Direct laryngoscopy lets us see deeper into your throat with a fiber-optic scope. There are rigid scopes, which are often used in surgery to remove foreign objects, perform biopsies, remove polyps or perform laser treatments. It may also be used to help find cancer of the voice box. Rigid scopes are used under general anesthesia.

In the office, we use a fiber-optic scope, which is thin and flexible and enables direct access to your throat. First, you may be given a numbing spray and/or a medication to dry up the secretions in your nose and throat. Then Drs. Chapman, Anderson or Ballinger will put the scope through your nose and gently down your throat.

How To Prepare

For the in-office procedure using a flexible scope, please do not to eat or drink anything before the procedure. Although numbing medication is used, some patients with a strong gag reflex may have trouble and we want to prevent vomiting. If you wear dentures, you will just need to remove them before the examination.

If a rigid scope is necessary, it will be performed under general anesthesia. Drs. Chapman, Anderson or Ballinger will want to know if you:

  • Are allergic to any medicines, including anesthetics
  • Are taking any medications or herbal drugs
  • Have bleeding problems or take any blood-thinning medicine
  • Have a history of heart problems
  • Are pregnant or might be pregnant
  • Have had surgery or radiation treatments to your mouth or throat

Prepare as you would for a surgery. Be sure not to eat or drink for 8 hours before the procedure. Remove all jewelry, dentures, glasses, and use the restroom. Also plan to have someone drive you home following the procedure.

The Procedure

Once you are asleep, Drs. Chapman, Anderson or Ballinger will place the scope in your mouth and down your throat to perform your treatment. The exam will take approximately 15-30 minutes. After the procedure, you will be in recovery until you are fully awake and able to swallow.