Pharyngoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to examine your pharynx, a 5-inch hollow tube that starts behind your nose and goes down the esophagus and trachea.
The pharynx has three parts:
You will remain awake during the procedure, which can be done in the office. Your doctor will numb your throat and then place a thin, flexible tube (endoscope) inside your nostril and gently guide the tube into your throat. A camera at the end of the tube sends pictures to a video monitor.
Your doctor will look down your throat using a small, long-handled mirror, looking for abnormalities and to ensure your vocal cords are working correctly. Your doctor will shine a light in your mouth and wear a mirror on his or her head to reflect light to the back of your throat. The test does not hurt. Your doctor may spray a local anesthetic in the back of your throat to stop you from gagging during the procedure.
A laryngoscopy is an examination that uses a fiber optic endoscope, called a laryngoscope, which your doctor will insert through your nose or your mouth. The laryngoscope may be flexible or rigid. The procedure is similar to a pharyngoscopy except the scope goes further and examines the larynx (voice box), vocal cords, and the epiglottis. As the laryngoscope advances, your doctor can look at areas that she/he could not see using just a mirror. If necessary, small tissue samples can be taken for biopsy. A local anesthetic will ease the discomfort and prevent you from gagging. Your doctor may also give you a sedative to help you relax. In some cases, general anesthesia is used, in which case you will not be awake or conscious during the procedure.
Your doctor will give you instructions about not eating or drinking before the examination to prevent vomiting. If you wear dentures, you will be asked to remove them before the examination is done.
Preparation is similar to that of other surgical procedures. Because you will have general anesthesia, do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the exam.
Tell your doctor and nurses if you: