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Laryngoscopy

3-minute read

This page will give you information about a laryngoscopy. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a laryngoscopy?

A laryngoscopy is a procedure to look at your voice box (larynx) using a rigid telescope.

What are the benefits of a laryngoscopy?

Your doctor is concerned that you may have a problem in your larynx. A laryngoscopy is a good way of finding out if there is a problem.

Illustration showing a laryngoscopy.
A laryngoscopy.

If your surgeon finds a problem, they can perform biopsies (removing small pieces of tissue) to help make the diagnosis.

For some people minor treatments can be performed at the same time.

Are there any alternatives to a laryngoscopy?

Your doctor has recommended a laryngoscopy as it is the best way of diagnosing most problems with your larynx.

Your doctor will usually have looked at your larynx using a flexible telescope (endoscope) or a smaller rigid telescope.

What does the procedure involve?

A laryngoscopy is performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 30 minutes.

Your surgeon will place a rigid telescope (laryngoscope) into the back of your mouth to examine your larynx.

Your surgeon may be able to remove small problems from your larynx using surgical instruments or a laser. If you have a lump, they will be able to perform biopsies and take photographs to help make the diagnosis.

What complications can happen?

  • sore throat
  • breathing difficulties or heart irregularities
  • heart attack or stroke
  • making a hole in your tongue or the lining of your throat
  • damage to teeth or bridgework, or bruised gums
  • bleeding
  • change in taste
  • developing a hoarse voice
  • airway fire, if oxygen in your airways catches fire during laser surgery

How soon will I recover?

You will usually recover in about 2 hours.

If your doctor performed a biopsy, you may need to stay overnight and wait until the next morning before being given a drink. You may need to rest your voice for the first few days.

You should be able to return to work after a few days.

The healthcare team will tell you what was found during the laryngoscopy and discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.

Regular exercise should improve your long-term health. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Summary

A laryngoscopy is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if there is a problem with your larynx.

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Last reviewed: September 2020


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