Laryngoscopy is an exam of the back of your throat, including your voice box (larynx). Your voice box contains your vocal cords and allows you to speak.
Laryngoscopy may be done in three ways:
Preparation will depend on the type of laryngoscopy you will have. If the exam will be done under general anesthesia, you may be told not to drink or eat anything for several hours before the test.
How the test will feel depends on which type of laryngoscopy is done.
Indirect laryngoscopy using a mirror or stroboscopy can cause gagging. For this reason it is not often used in children under age 6 - 7 or those who gag easily.
Fiberoptic laryngoscopy can be done in children. It may cause a feeling of pressure and a feeling like you are going to sneeze.
This test can help your doctor diagnose many conditions involving the throat and voice box. Your health care provider may recommend this test if you have:
A direct laryngoscopy may also be used to:
A normal result means the throat, voice box, and vocal cords appear normal.
Abnormal results may be due to:
Laryngoscopy is a safe procedure. Risks depend on the specific procedure, but may include:
Indirect mirror laryngoscopy should NOT be done:
Laryngopharyngoscopy; Indirect laryngoscopy; Flexible laryngoscopy; Mirror laryngoscopy; Direct laryngoscopy; Fiberoptic laryngoscopy; Laryngoscopy using strobe (laryngeal stroboscopy)
Sulica L. Laryngoscopy, stroboscopy and other tools for the evaluation of voice disorders. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2013;46(1):21-30.
Schwartz SR, Cohen SM, Dailey SH, et al. Clinical practice guidelines: hoarseness (dysphonia). Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009;141:S1-S31.
Fowler C, Dumas C. Indirect mirror laryngoscopy. In: Pfenninger JL, ed. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 79.
Courey MS. Complications of laryngoscopy. In: Eisele DW, Smith RV, eds. Complications in Head and Neck Surgery. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 30.
Updated by: Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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