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Direct laryngoscopy is a procedure to look at the vocal cords. A laryngoscope is a rigid, hollow tube with a light attached. Using this tool, the doctor can look behind your tongue and down your throat. A tissue sample (biopsy) can be taken for study in a lab. Or a growth can be removed. Your doctor can tell you more about your procedure depending on why it’s being done. This sheet gives you general information about what to expect.
Prepare for the surgery as you have been instructed. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take. This includes over-the-counter drugs. It also includes herbs and other supplements. You may need to stop taking some or all of them before surgery. Also, follow any directions you’re given for not eating or drinking before surgery.
The procedure takes 30-60 minutes. You will likely go home the same day.
Before the procedure begins:
An IV line is put into a vein in your arm or hand. This line delivers fluids and medications.
You will be given medication (anesthesia) to keep you pain free during surgery. This may be general anesthesia, which puts you in a state like deep sleep. Or you may have sedation, which makes you relaxed and droswy. Local anesthesia may also be injected or sprayed into your throat to numb it.
During the procedure:
You will lie on your back on a table. The scope is put into your mouth and passed down into the throat.
The doctor examines the larynx and surrounding areas with the scope. If needed, a biopsy is done using small tools put through the scope.
If a growth is found, tools can be put through the scope to remove it.
You will be taken to a room to wake up from the anesthesia. At first, your throat may be sore and scratchy. Your voice may be hoarse, making talking difficult. And it may be hard to swallow. You will receive medication to control pain. When you are released to go home, have an adult family member or friend ready to drive you.
Once home, follow any instructions you have been given. Be sure to:
Take pain medication as directed.
Drink plenty of water as soon as you can swallow normally.
Use throat lozenges as advised by your doctor to help ease throat soreness.
Rest your voice as instructed by your doctor.
After you get home, call the doctor if you have any of the following:
Chest pain or trouble breathing (call 911)
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
Problems swallowing that prevent you from eating or drinking
Pain that does not go away even after taking pain medication
Severe nausea or vomiting
Cough that brings up blood
Within a few weeks, you will see your doctor for a follow-up visit. During this visit, your doctor will discuss the results of the procedure. Depending on what was found, you may need further evaluation and treatment.
The risks of this procedure include:
Cuts in the mouth or throat
Injury to the teeth
Vocal cord injury
Risks of anesthesia (you will discuss these with the anesthesiologist)