Laryngoscopy is a procedure performed to view and examine the condition of the larynx in the throat. The larynx contains the vocal cords that allow you to speak. This is why, disorders of the larynx usually make your voice hoarse.
Laryngoscopy is performed by an ENT (ear, nose, and mouth) specialist. The trick is to insert a special instrument called a laryngoscope to look into the throat. As scary as it sounds, most laryngoscopy is done under general anesthesia so you won't feel any pain.
Why is laryngoscopy done?
Laryngoscopy is generally performed to help doctors diagnose diseases or conditions related to the throat and larynx. The doctor will advise you to undergo this examination if there are certain complaints, including:
- Hoarseness, low voice, or no voice for more than 3 weeks
- Sore throat or earache that doesn't go away
- Lumps in the head or neck area suspected of being cancer
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Coughing up blood or coughing for a long time
- Bad breath that doesn't go away
- Breathing problems, including noisy breathing (stridor)
- Long-standing upper respiratory tract problems in smokers
In addition, laryngoscopy can also be used as a doctor's tool to take a sample of tissue in the throat (biopsy), remove polyps from the vocal cords, or remove objects that block the airway.
Types of laryngoscopy
There are 2 types of laryngoscopy procedures, namely:
This procedure is called indirect because the doctor looks at the larynx through a mirror. First, the patient is asked to sit up straight, then the doctor sprays a local anesthetic down his throat.
After that, the doctor will cover the patient's tongue with gauze and hold it so that it does not block the view. Next, the doctor inserts a small mirror into the throat and examines the larynx for reflections in the mirror.
The mirror used in indirect laryngoscopy can strike against the wall of the throat and trigger the gag reflex. Therefore, this method is not used in children under the age of 6-7 years or patients who vomit easily.
Direct laryngoscopy is usually performed in the operating room. The patient may be under general (asleep) or local anaesthesia by spraying an anesthetic down the throat. Direct laryngoscopy is performed using a laryngoscope, a flexible tube-shaped instrument with a camera at the end.
The laryngoscope is inserted into the throat through the nose or mouth. With this device, the larynx can be seen more clearly, making it easier for the doctor to examine the throat, perform a biopsy, or remove a foreign body from the throat.
Laryngoscopy Side Effects
Just like any other medical procedure, laryngoscopy also carries a risk of side effects. Examples of side effects that can occur due to laryngoscopy are:
- Allergic reactions to anesthetics
- Sores on the lips, tongue, and walls of the mouth and throat
However, laryngoscopy is very safe to do and the risk of side effects is small.
If you are going to have a laryngoscopy, make sure you understand the preparations that need to be made. Each type of laryngoscopy has a different preparation. It's possible that the procedure you are doing requires fasting beforehand. If you are still confused, don't hesitate to ask your doctor.