Since many voice disorders are caused by problems in the voice box and/or throat, a careful and detailed examination of the voice box and throat is key to the identification of the cause or causes of voice disorders. Several methods can be used to examine the throat and voice box.
- Laryngeal mirror
- Flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy
- Laryngeal stroboscopy or videostroboscopy
Though the laryngeal mirror was the first method to be used in the 1800s, assessment of vocal fold appearance and function as come a long way! The first advance in viewing the voice box beyond using a headlight to see a reflection of the vocal folds through a mirror placed in the back of the throat was a fiberoptic laryngoscopy. This examination involves passing a flexible viewing-tube through the patient’s nose to the back of the throat and allows for observing the voice box in action. Fiberoptic laryngoscopy provides a magnified view of the voice box while the patient produces sound (speaking, singing, etc.).
Laryngeal Stroboscopy is a specialized examination that adds information about vocal fold vibration. It uses high-speed flashes of light timed to the frequency of the patient’s voice. These flashes provide a slow motion-like view of vocal fold vibration during speaking and singing.
Stroboscopy can be performed through either a flexible or a rigid camera tube. The flexible version is passed through the nose and back of the throat to reach the voice box, whereas the rigid version is passed through the mouth to the back of the throat. Rigid videostroboscopy provides the clearest magnified view of the voice box and is a state of the art technique used by our expert voice surgeon routinely. The images obtained can be recorded during the exam and available for instant replay, which allows for close and careful evaluation of vocal cord function and any possible pathologies.
Who performs laryngoscopy and stroboscopy?
An otolaryngologist (ENT specialist), laryngologist (ENT voice subspecialist) or speech-language pathologist typically performs laryngoscopy and/or stroboscopy. The examiner’s training and background experience is critical in performing and evaluating laryngoscopy and stroboscopy findings. Evaluation with a voice team, consisting of a laryngologist, a speech-language pathologist, and a voice coach if necessary, is considered ideal in the care of chronic and professional voice disorders.
If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you may be a candidate for videostroboscopy:
- Hoarseness, breathiness or any other change in voice
- Vocal fatigue
- Soreness, tightness or a burning sensation in the throat
- The feeling of having something stuck in the throat
- Frequent cough or throat clearing
- Acid reflux
Videostroboscopy is a safe and effective outpatient procedure that causes no pain or discomfort other than the possibility of a little numbness in the nose, mouth and throat for a short period afterward as the topical anesthetic wears off. You can resume normal activities as soon as you are ready. The examination itself only takes a few minutes on average, and it provides immediate results.
Having a voice concern? Call DeFatta ENT & Allergy at (715) 828-2368 for more information or to schedule an appointment with our voice specialist.