In the outpatient department, you will probably have had an indirect laryngoscopy, where your surgeon looks into your throat using a mirror. For a direct laryngoscopy we look directly into your larynx using a special telescope, called a laryngoscope. You will be unconscious with a general anaesthetic while this is done. We will do a detailed examination of all the parts of your larynx, including your vocal cords.
If we find an abnormal swelling we usually do a biopsy and send it to the laboratory for tests. Biopsies are very small; you will not need stitches and the area usually heals quickly.
Examining your larynx in this way will help us find out what has gone wrong. Being unconscious with a general anaesthetic will stop you coughing or gagging on the laryngoscope during the procedure.
Are there any alternatives?
X‑rays and scans are not very good for showing the inside of your larynx. The only way to directly view your larynx is to use a special telescope.
There is a procedure that uses a smaller flexible telescope. This can be done under local anaesthetic. This flexible laryngoscopy may be done as an alternative if you are not fit for a general anaesthetic. It may also be done instead of using the rigid scope at the preference of your surgeon. This depends on your symptoms and the possible causes.
What if you do nothing?
You may have a problem with your larynx that would go unrecognised if you do not have this procedure. You could miss out on essential treatment. A problem in your larynx might cause serious problems with your voice, swallowing or breathing.
Author: Mr Robert Ruckley MB. ChB. F.R.C.S. Consultant ENT surgeon.
© Dumas Ltd 2006