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If you experience chronic (long term) laryngitis, difficulty swallowing or throat pain your consultant may recommend a larynx diagnostic endoscopy (laryngoscopy).

A larynx diagnostic endoscopy is a procedure to look at your voice box (larynx) using a thin, flexible telescope (flexible laryngoscopy) or a rigid telescope (rigid laryngoscopy) with a light and camera.

What are the benefits of a larynx diagnostic endoscopy (laryngoscopy)?

If your consultant is concerned that you may have a problem in your larynx, a larynx diagnostic endoscopy (laryngoscopy) is a good way of finding out if there is a problem.

If your consultant finds a problem, they can perform biopsies (removing small pieces of tissue) to help make the diagnosis. For some people, the treatment can be performed at the same time.

What happens during a larynx diagnostic endoscopy (laryngoscopy)?

Flexible laryngoscopy

A flexible laryngoscopy takes between 15-20 minutes. Local anaesthetic will be applied to your nose.

Your consultant will pass a very thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the end through your nose to the area just above your throat. The camera will send pictures of your larynx to a monitor.

If any abnormality is found they may take a tiny tissue sample to be examined in a laboratory.

Rigid laryngoscopy

A rigid laryngoscopy is performed under a general anaesthetic in a theatre. It usually takes about 30 minutes.

Your surgeon will place a rigid telescope (laryngoscope) into the back of your mouth to examine your larynx. Sometimes they will use a microscope or flexible telescope if they need to examine your larynx more closely.

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.

After larynx diagnostic endoscopy

Flexible laryngoscopy

You will be able to go home after your endoscopy. The numb feeling in your throat should ease after about 1 hour. Avoid drinking any hot drinks until all the feeling in your throat has returned.

Rigid laryngoscopy

You will be transferred to the recovery area where you can rest. You will usually recover in about 2 hours. Once you are able to swallow properly, you will be given a drink.

If your consultant 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.

If you had sedation or a general anaesthetic and you do go home the same day:

  • a responsible adult should take you home in a car or taxi and stay with you for at least 24 hours
  • you should be near a telephone in case of an emergency
  • do not drive, operate machinery or do any potentially dangerous activities (this includes cooking) for at least 24 hours and not until you have fully recovered feeling, movement and co-ordination
  • do not sign legal documents or drink alcohol for at least 24 hours

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

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