Medical procedure that consists of visual examination of your throat, precisely your larynx, is called laryngoscopy. It is an effective examination for discovering the causes of problems with your voice and your throat, difficulty in swallowing, ear or throat pain, and airway blockages, and it is also used to diagnose problems with vocal cords, if you are experiencing trouble and pain when you speak.
It is usually a painless procedure, mostly done under local or general anesthesia, and depending on the kind of procedure, it can last from few minutes to one hour.
There are several kinds of this procedure, depending on the type of the scope used. Some of them last longer than others, some require general anesthesia and others don’t, but for all of them, you should have no lasting troubles except from sore throat and general anesthesia side-effects. If you had a biopsy along with the laryngoscopy, you can expect to bleed a little from the biopsy site.
Indirect laryngoscopy is performed with a small hand mirror that the doctor uses to look at the back of the patient’s throat. The doctor then shines a light in the patient’s mouth, to better see larynx and vocal cords, and possible damages on them. This examination lasts a few minutes. It isn’t painful, but it can cause gagging, so it’s not usually used with kids. It is generally rarely done, since different kinds of direct laryngoscopy are more comfortable for the patients, and they also let the doctor see better.
In general, direct laryngoscopy is when the doctor uses a special instrument, a flexible or rigid scope, to look deeper in your throat. He inserts the laryngoscope into the patient’s mouth or nose while the patient is lying on his or hers back. Rigid scopes are used in surgery, and flexible scopes might be used in doctor’s office.
This procedure is performed with the patient lying on his or hers back, under general anesthesia. The procedure takes between 20-30 minutes, and the patient needs to remove all jewelry. When asleep, the rigid laryngoscope is inserted into his or hers throat, so the doctor can take a better look and, if necessary, to remove any objects that cause the complications, such as fish bone or polyps.
Flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy
This is the most common type of examination. It utilizes a thin flexible scope that contains fiberoptic cable, which helps in visualizing the areas of the throat and voice box. Even though the endoscope is inserted through the nose, most patients tolerate this exam with little or no difficulty. Since the patient is awake, this is the best method for evaluating the motion of vocal cords. Another type of this examination is video laryngoscopy, which is performed with a digital scope, and allowing the doctor to look into your larynx under a different angle.
Micro laryngoscopy is also done using laryngoscope, but the doctor is observing your throat through a microscope. This is the most precise means of operating on vocal cords. It can take up to one hour, under general anesthesia, but the patient can leave the hospital the same day.
If the laryngoscopy was performed under general anesthesia, the patient will have to rest until the effects of anesthetics have passed. He or she will be able to go home the same day, but it’s advisable to have someone around for 24h after the procedure.
For the first few hours after procedure, you will experience a sore throat. There may be some bleeding if the laryngoscope was inserted through the nose, or if a biopsy was performed as part of the procedure. These are all normal, but if you cough up or vomit blood, you should seek urgent medical attention.