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Laryngoscopy and nasolaryngoscopy

Laryngopharyngoscopy; Indirect laryngoscopy; Flexible laryngoscopy; Mirror laryngoscopy; Direct laryngoscopy; Fiberoptic laryngoscopy; Laryngoscopy using strobe (laryngeal stroboscopy)

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.

I Would Like to Learn About:

How the Test is Performed

Laryngoscopy may be done in different ways:

How to Prepare for the Test

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

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 to 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.

Why the Test is Performed

This test can help your provider diagnose many conditions involving the throat and voice box. Your provider may recommend this test if you have:

A direct laryngoscopy may also be used to:

Normal Results

A normal result means the throat, voice box, and vocal cords appear normal.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may be due to:

Risks

Laryngoscopy is a safe procedure. Risks depend on the specific procedure, but may include:

Considerations

Indirect mirror laryngoscopy should NOT be done:

References

Armstrong WB, Vokes DE, Tjoa T, Verma SP. Malignant tumors of the larynx. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 105.

Mark LJ, Hillel AT, Lester L, Akst SA, Cover R, Herzer K. General considerations of anesthesia and management of the difficult airway. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 5.

Sarber KM, Lam DJ, Ishman SL. Sleep apnea and sleep disorders. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 15

Sidell DR, , Messner AH. Evaluation and management of the pediatric airway. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 206.

Syme NP, Hoffman HT, Anderson C, Pagedar NA,. Management of early glottic cancer. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 106.

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Review Date: 8/31/2021  

Reviewed By: Josef Shargorodsky, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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