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Laryngoscopy is a procedure performed to see 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
- Lump in the head or neck area suspected of being cancer
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Coughing up blood or prolonged cough
- Bad breath that doesn't go away
- Respiratory 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.
Different types of laryngoscopy
Laryngoscopy procedures are divided into 2 types, 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 as not to 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 nudge the wall of the throat and cause a 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 anesthetic 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 foreign bodies from the throat.
Side Effects of Laryngoscopy
Just like any other medical procedure, laryngoscopy is also at risk of side effects. Examples of side effects that can occur due to laryngoscopy are:
- Allergic reaction to anesthetic
- Sores on the lips, tongue, and walls of the mouth and throat
However, laryngoscopy is very safe to perform and the risk of side effects is low.
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 the doctor.