Your doctor may use a small device to look into your throat and larynx, or voice box. This procedure is called laryngoscopy. The reason your doctor might do this is to find out why you have a cough or sore throat, to find and remove something that’s stuck in there, or to take samples of your tissue to look at later.
What Does My Larynx Do?
It helps you talk, breathe, and swallow. It’s at the back of your throat and at the top of your windpipe, or trachea. It houses your vocal cords, which vibrate to make sounds as you speak.
When doctors need to look into your larynx and other nearby parts of your throat or put a tube into your windpipe to help you breathe, they use a small hand tool called a laryngoscope. Modern versions of the tool often include a small video camera.
Why Might You Need a Laryngoscopy?
There are a few reasons you might need a laryngoscopy:
Because You Are Having Throat or Voice Problems
This test can be used to look for the causes of symptoms in the throat or voice box (such as trouble swallowing or breathing, voice changes, bad breath, or a cough or throat pain that won’t go away). Laryngoscopy can also be used to get a better look at an abnormal area seen on an imaging test (such as a CT scan).
To Get Biopsy Samples of Any Abnormal Areas
Laryngoscopy can be used to take biopsy samples of the vocal cords or nearby parts of the throat (to find out if an abnormal area is cancer, for example). This is done by passing long, thin instruments down the laryngoscope, such as small forceps (tweezers) to collect the samples. The biopsy samples are then looked at in the lab.
To Treat Some Problems in The Voice Box (Including Some Early Cancers)
Laryngoscopy can be used to treat some problems in the vocal cords or throat. For example, long, thin instruments can be passed down the laryngoscope to remove small growths (tumors or polyps) on the vocal cords. A small laser on the end of a laryngoscope can also be used to burn away abnormal areas.
Be sure your health care provider knows about any medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbs, and supplements, as well as if you have allergies to any medicines.
You might be asked to stop taking blood-thinning medicines (including aspirin) or some other medicines for several days before the test. You might also be asked not to eat or drink anything for at least several hours before the procedure. Your doctor or nurse will give you specific instructions. Be sure to follow them, and to ask questions if there’s anything you don’t understand.
Types of Laryngoscopy
There are several ways your doctor may do this procedure:
. Indirect laryngoscopy. This is the simplest form. Your doctor uses a small mirror and a light to look into your throat. The mirror is on a long handle, like the kind a dentist often uses, and it’s placed against the roof of your mouth.
The doctor shines a light into your mouth to see the image in the mirror. It can be done in a doctor’s office in just 5 to 10 minutes.
You’ll sit in a chair while the exam is done. Your doctor might spray something into your throat to make it numb. Having something stuck in your throat might make you gag, however.
. Direct fiber-optic laryngoscopy. Many doctors now do this kind, sometimes called flexible laryngoscopy. They use a small telescope at the end of a cable, which goes up your nose and down into your throat.
It takes less than 10 minutes. You’ll get a numbing medication for your nose. Sometimes a decongestant is used to open your nasal passages as well. Gagging is a common reaction with this procedure as well.
. Direct laryngoscopy. This is the most involved type. Your doctor uses a laryngoscope to push down your tongue and lift up the epiglottis. That’s the flap of cartilage that covers your windpipe. It opens during breathing and closes during swallowing.
Your doctor can do this to remove small growths or samples of tissue for testing. They can also use this procedure to insert a tube into the windpipe to help someone breathe during an emergency or in surgery.
Direct laryngoscopy can take up to 45 minutes. You’ll be given what’s called general anesthesia, so that you will not be awake during the procedure. Your doctor can take out any growths in your throat or take a sample of something that might need to be checked more closely.
How Do I Get Ready for Laryngoscopy Surgery?
Your doctor might want to take X-rays or do other imaging tests before a laryngoscopy. If you’re going to have a direct laryngoscopy under general anesthesia, you’ll be told not to eat or drink anything before you go in.
You might also be asked to stop taking some medications for as long as a week before you have it done.
After Laryngoscopy Surgery
After the procedure, you will be watched closely for a while to make sure you don’t have any complications.
Your mouth and throat will probably be numb for a couple of hours. You won't be allowed to eat or drink until the numbness wears off. Once the numbness is gone, you may have a sore throat, cough (which might contain some blood at first), or hoarseness for the next day or so.
If you had the procedure as an outpatient, you will most likely be able to go home after a few hours, but you might need a ride home because of the medicines or anesthesia you received. Many centers will not discharge people to go home in a cab or a ridesharing service, so you might need someone to help you get home. If transportation might be a problem, talk with your health care provider about the policy at your hospital or surgery center for using one of these services. There may be other resources available for getting home, depending on the situation. Your doctor or nurse should give you specific instructions on what you can and can’t do in the hours after the test.
If biopsies were done as part of the procedure, the results will typically be available within a few days, although some tests on the biopsy samples might take longer. You will need to follow up with your doctor after the procedure to get your results.
Possible Complications of a Laryngoscopy Surgery
It’s rare to have problems after a laryngoscopy, but it can still happen. Some of these complications include:
. Pain or swelling in the mouth, tongue, or throat
. Gagging or vomiting
If you were given anesthesia, you might feel nauseous or sleepy afterward. You might have a dry mouth or a sore throat. These are common reactions to the anesthesia.
But if you find yourself in increasing pain, running a fever, coughing or vomiting blood, having trouble breathing or swallowing, or having chest pains, you should call your doctor.
Laryngoscopy Surgery Follow-Up Care
You can suck on ice or gargle with salt water to ease a sore throat. Over-the-counter pain relievers or throat lozenges can help as well.
If doctors took a tissue sample, the results may take 3 to 5 days to come back. They might schedule another appointment to talk about what they found.
About Iranian Surgery
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For more information about the cost of Laryngoscopy Surgery in Iran and to schedule an appointment in advance, you can contact Iranian Surgery consultants via WhatsApp number 0098 901 929 0946. This service is completely free.