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Nasendoscopy and laryngoscopy procedures

Expert reviewer, Mr Anil Banerjee, Ear, Nose and Throat Consultant
Next review due December 2022

A nasendoscopy is a procedure to look at the back of your nose, throat and voice box (larynx).

A laryngoscopy is a procedure to look at the back of your throat and voice box.

You’ll meet the surgeon who will carry out your procedure to discuss your care. It might be different from what we describe here because it will be designed to meet your individual needs.

Doctor talking to patient

What are nasendoscopy and laryngoscopy used for?

Nasendoscopy

A nasendoscopy allows your surgeon to look at your nose, throat and voice box to find out the cause of any problems. These might be problems with your voice, difficulties swallowing or pain in your throat or ears. They can also check if you have any injuries in your throat, narrowing of your throat or a blocked airway.

In a nasendoscopy, your surgeon uses an endoscope. This is a thin flexible tube with a light and a camera at the end. They’ll pass the tube through your nose to the back of your throat. This procedure is also sometimes called a nasolaryngoscopy.

Laryngoscopy

If your doctor can’t see your voice box clearly during a nasendoscopy, or they spot any potential problems, they may want to do a laryngoscopy to find out more.

A laryngoscopy uses a specially designed tube called a laryngoscope that your surgeon will pass through your mouth. They can then pass instruments through the tube to remove any blockages in your throat. Or they can take a sample of tissue (biopsy), remove polyps (growths) from your vocal cords or give you laser treatment.

An ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon will usually do both nasendoscopy and laryngoscopy procedures.

Preparing for a nasendoscopy and laryngoscopy

Your surgeon will spend some time explaining how to prepare for your procedure.

You can have a nasendoscopy as an outpatient, which means you can go home the same day, and you’ll be awake during the procedure. Sometimes, your doctor might spray your nose and throat with a local anaesthetic to numb the area, although this isn’t always done. This will reduce the sensation of the tube passing through your nose and throat.

A laryngoscopy is done in hospital under general anaesthesia, which means you’ll be asleep while it’s done. An anaesthetic can make you sick, so it's important that you don't eat or drink anything for six hours beforehand. You might be able to have some water up to a couple of hours before – but follow your anaesthetist or surgeon's advice. If you have any questions, just ask.

If you’re having a laryngoscopy, there’ll be some pressure on your top teeth from the laryngoscope. Your hospital might give you a gum shield to wear to protect your teeth. If you have implants, caps, crowns or any other dental work, it‘s important to let your surgeon and anaesthetist know.

Being fully informed will help you feel more at ease and will allow you to give your consent for the procedure to go ahead. You may be asked to do this by signing a consent form. If you’re not sure you want to have the procedure, you can take more time to decide. Your surgeon won’t carry out the procedure until you understand and agree with what’s going to happen.

What happens during a nasendoscopy and laryngoscopy?

Nasendoscopy procedure

This usually takes a few minutes and you’ll sit down while you have it. Sometimes, your surgeon might spray some local anaesthetic into your nose. It has an unpleasant taste, and might make you cough. The numbing effect will last for about half an hour.

Your surgeon will then pass the tube through your nose and into the back of your mouth. To help your surgeon to see your entire throat, they might ask you to:

  • stick your tongue out as far as possible
  • take some deep breaths through your nose
  • puff out your cheeks
  • make some sounds so they can see your vocal cords

The camera lens on the end of the endoscope will send pictures from the inside of your throat to a monitor. During your procedure, your surgeon may look through the endoscope or at the pictures on the monitor.

Laryngoscopy procedure

This usually takes about half an hour and you’ll need to lie on your back while you’re having it done. Before you lie down, remove any dentures or dental plates, contact lenses, glasses and jewellery. Once the general anaesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon will carefully pass the laryngoscope down your throat. They might look directly into the laryngoscope or at images on a monitor.

If necessary, your surgeon will take a biopsy, which is a sample of tissue. They’ll pass instruments through the laryngoscope to take the sample. Your surgeon will send this to a laboratory to see what type of cells they are.

What to expect afterwards

If you’ve had a nasendoscopy with a local anaesthetic, you can go home straightaway. It may take around half an hour before the feeling comes back into your throat. Don't drink or eat anything until the local anaesthetic has worn off.

If you’ve had a laryngoscopy under a general anaesthetic, you’ll need to rest until the effects have worn off. You’ll then be able to go home when you feel ready, but ask a friend or relative to drive you. It’s a good idea for them to stay with you for the first 24 hours too. Don’t eat or drink anything for at least two hours afterwards or sometimes even longer, especially if you’ve had a biopsy taken. Follow your surgeon’s advice.

Your surgeon may discuss the findings of your procedure with you before you leave the hospital or they may wait for your follow-up appointment.

If you’ve had a biopsy, the results won’t be ready for a few days. So you’re unlikely to get them until your follow-up appointment.

Recovering from a nasendoscopy and laryngoscopy

If you’ve had a laryngoscopy procedure, you may have a sore throat for a day or two afterwards. If you need pain relief, you can take over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with your medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice.

You can usually eat and drink normally after a couple of hours. But if you have a sore throat, you may want to stick to soft foods or liquids until you feel better.

If you’ve had a laryngoscopy with a general anaesthetic, the anaesthetic can really take it out of you. You might find that you're not so co-ordinated or that it's difficult to think clearly. This should pass within 24 hours. In the meantime, don't drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery or sign anything important.

Most people don’t have any problems after nasendoscopy or laryngoscopy procedures, but seek urgent medical attention if:

  • your voice changes
  • you get any lumps in your neck
  • you have earache
  • your face hurts
  • you have a fever
  • you feel severe pain when you swallow
  • you have difficulty breathing

Side-effects of a nasendoscopy and laryngoscopy

Side-effects are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects of a procedure. If you’ve had a nasendoscopy, you might sometimes have a small bit of blood in your nose, but this is rare.

Side-effects of a laryngoscopy may include:

  • a sore throat
  • changes to your voice, especially if your surgeon takes a biopsy
  • a stiff neck
  • bleeding – you might see a bit of blood in your phlegm
  • a nosebleed

Complications of a nasendoscopy and laryngoscopy

This is when problems occur during or after the procedure. Complications of a nasendoscopy are very rare.

Complications of a laryngoscopy can include:

  • difficulty breathing – this might be because of having the laryngoscope in your throat or because of the effects of the general anaesthesia
  • damage to your airway or throat lining – particularly if you have a biopsy taken
  • damage to your teeth

Frequently asked questions

  • Your voice may be hoarse for a short while after the procedure but it's unlikely you’ll have any long-term problems.

    The basic sounds that form your singing or speaking voice are produced by air passing through your larynx. These sounds are then formed by your tongue, teeth, lips and nose. Immediately after a laryngoscopy, especially if you had biopsies taken, you may have some swelling in your throat. This can affect the quality of your voice. It might sound hoarse until the swelling goes down.

    If you’ve had biopsies taken from your voice box, your surgeon may suggest that you rest your voice after the procedure. How long you need to rest your voice depends on many factors, including where the biopsy was taken from and how well the area heals. It could be just for a day or two but it could be for up to two weeks. Your surgeon will advise you before you leave the hospital.

  • An ENT surgeon is trained in the treatment of conditions that affect the ears, nose, throat, head and neck.

    ENT surgeons treat problems with hearing and balance, sinus infections, snoring and voice and swallowing disorders. They also deal with thyroid disease, nose reshaping, facial movement problems and throat and neck cancers.

    ENT surgeons are usually called Mr or Mrs, Ms or Miss rather than Dr and will have Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) after their name. The Royal College of Surgeons is responsible for the training and examination of surgeons, and supports surgical research in the UK.

    If you think you need advice or treatment from an ENT surgeon, contact your GP. They can recommend a reputable surgeon and give advice about how to choose where to be treated.



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  • Reviewed by Liz Woolf, Freelance Health Editor and Michelle Harrison, Specialist Health Editor, Bupa Health Content Team, December 2019
    Expert reviewer, Mr Anil Banerjee, Ear, Nose and Throat Consultant
    Next review due December 2022

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