If you are coming to the Chicago Institute for Voice Care with a problem involving voice or swallowing issues, it's important to understand how we view and treat these types of conditions. Otolaryngologists, or ENTs (for Ear, Nose, and Throat physicians), are surgeons and use a range of scopes to treat vocal and swallowing issues in a minimally invasive way that typically promotes healing with faster recovery and less pain than through traditional open surgery. The primary way of detecting and diagnosing voice/swallowing issues is through a laryngoscope, which allows the ENT physician to look at the back of your throat. Procedures of this nature, known as laryngoscopy, are covered by most insurers, and usually are done in the doctor's office.
In laryngoscopy, the scope, a thin, flexible viewing tube, is passed through the nose and guided to the vocal folds, or larynx. A fiber optic cable permits the physician to directly inspect the nose, throat, and larynx for abnormalities. Recently, digital technology has been embedded in the scope to allow for smaller scopes with even clearer images. Laryngoscopy is typically performed using local anesthesia if necessary. A rigid scope can also be passed through the mouth to see the vocal folds with more light and a larger image. Both methods, flexible and rigid laryngoscopy, allow for visualization of the vocal folds, an essential information-gathering step that helps make a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
Flexible laryngoscopy can be done while the patient reads, speaks, or sings, to allow visualization of the voice box during a specific voice-related task.