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.
Laryngoscopy may be done in three ways:
Indirect laryngoscopy uses a small mirror held at the back of your throat. The doctor shines a light on the mirror to view the throat area. This is a simple procedure. Most of the time it can be done in the doctor's office while you are awake. A medicine to numb the back of your throat may be used.
Fiberoptic laryngoscopy uses a small flexible telescope. The scope is passed through your nose and into your throat. This is the most common way that the voice box is examined. You are awake for the procedure. Numbing medicine will be sprayed in your nose. This procedure typically takes less than 1 minute.
Laryngoscopy using strobe light can also be done. Use of strobe light can give the doctor more information about problems with your voice box
Direct laryngoscopy uses a tube called a laryngoscope. The instrument is placed in the back of your throat. The tube may be flexible or stiff. This procedure allows the doctor to see deeper in the throat and to remove a foreign object or sample tissue for a biopsy. It is done in a hospital or medical center under general anesthesia, meaning you will be asleep and pain-free.
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 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 - 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.