Laryngoscopy is an exam of the voice box and vocal cords. It can be done as:
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Laryngoscopy is used to check for and diagnose problems inside the throat. It is most often done to:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems such as:
You may have a physical exam and a:
Leading up to your procedure:
Local or general anesthesia may be used for a laryngoscopy. Local anesthesia will numb the throat. With general anesthesia, you will be asleep.
Images may be taken during either type.
You will sit up straight in a high-back chair. A headrest will push your head and jaw forward. The anesthesia will be sprayed into your throat. Your tongue will be covered with gauze and held by the doctor. You will then need to breathe through your mouth as if panting. A warm mirror will be held at the back of the throat. The doctor will ask you to make a certain sound and watch the larynx. If there is a foreign object, such as a chicken bone, it can be removed.
The direct method is most often done after the indirect method. It allows the doctor to see a greater area. It may also be used if your gag reflex didn't allow a thorough exam. A special scope will be placed through your nose or mouth, then into your throat. The larynx will be checked through an eyepiece on the scope or a camera. The doctor take samples, remove growths, or take out a foreign object trapped in the throat. This method under general anesthesia or in the office under local anesthesia.
The indirect method only takes a few minutes. The direct method takes about 5–45 minutes, depending on the problem.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during the procedure. With a direct method, you may have a sore throat for a few days if a biopsy was done.
If any tissue was removed, it will be check in a lab.
You may need to avoid clearing your throat or coughing if you had a biopsy.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
American Cancer Society
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation
Laryngoscopy. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/laryngoscopy.html. Updated April 2016. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Laryngoscopy and biopsy. NetDoctor website. Available at: https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/procedures/surgical/a4655/laryngoscopy-and-biopsy/. Updated May 7, 2009. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 8/10/2018