Test / Diagnostic Procedure: Laryngeal & Pharyngeal Endoscopy

A laryngeal and pharyngeal endoscopy is a diagnostic test that allows an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist to examine your larynx (voice box) and pharynx (throat) to investigate symptoms, make a diagnosis and also treat certain conditions.

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Why might you need to have a laryngeal and pharyngeal endoscopy?

There are a few reasons you might need a laryngoscopy, including:

  • To find the cause of problems with your throat or voice - such as trouble swallowing or breathing, voice changes, bad breath, or a cough or throat pain that won’t go away
  • To take a biopsy for testing - this may be needed to find out if an abnormal area of tissue is cancerous, for example
  • To treat problems in the voice box - thin instruments can be passed down the laryngoscope to remove small growths, for example 

What does a laryngeal and pharyngeal endoscopy involve?

A laryngeal and pharyngeal endoscopy is done as an outpatient procedure and usually takes around 10 to 15 minutes.

To have the procedure, you will either be put under general anaesthesia or will be awake with your throat numbed with a local anaesthetic. 

To begin the procedure, your ENT specialist will move a device called a laryngoscope (a tube with a camera on the end) through your mouth and into the lower part of your throat.

They will gently move the scope around the area to examine your entire throat and vocal cords. If there are any abnormal areas of tissue they will likely take biopsies for analysis.

How should you prepare for a laryngeal and pharyngeal endoscopy?

Before having a laryngeal and pharyngeal endoscopy procedure, you will meet with your consultant to discuss what the procedure involves, what the risks are and also how you should prepare. In most cases, there is very little to do to prepare for this kind of procedure. 

Your ENT specialist may ask you to stop taking certain medications, and you’ll need to be nil by mouth (no form of food or drink) for several hours before the test if you are having a general anaesthetic.

Risks of a laryngeal and pharyngeal endoscopy

A laryngeal and pharyngeal endoscopy is a very safe procedure and the benefits outweigh the possible risks.

Risks associated with this procedure include:

  • Reactions to anesthesia
  • Bleeding in the throat
  • Infection
  • Hoarseness
  • Damage to the teeth

Recovering from a laryngeal and pharyngeal endoscopy

If you have a general anaesthetic, you’ll be taken to a recovery room after the procedure to be monitored as you wake up. You should be able to go home the same day and return to your normal activities after 24 hours. 

If you are awake but have a local anaesthetic for the procedure, your throat will be numb for around an hour. You might have a sore throat for up to 24 hours after, but this shouldn’t be severe. It’s important to avoid hot food and drinks until all the feeling in your throat has returned to prevent burning.

If you have had any biopsies taken, you should rest your voice as much as possible for at least two days while the tissue heals. 

Your consultant will talk you through your results and the next steps for treatment at a follow-up appointment.

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Laryngeal & Pharyngeal Endoscopy Specialists

All our private ENT specialists at OneWelbeck in London are leaders in their sub-specialties, providing the highest quality treatment to ensure you receive the best available care.