Flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy is the most common type of examination used to visualize the areas of the throat and voice box. The exam utilizes a thin flexible endoscope containing fiberoptic cable that can be manipulated to examine areas not normally seen by traditional examination techniques. The endoscope is inserted through the nose and passed into the throat under direct visualization. Most patients tolerate this examination without much difficulty.
This examination technique provides a view of the structures of the throat, including the back of the nose (nasopharynx), the back of the mouth (oropharynx), the voice box (larynx), and the entrance to the swallowing passages (hypopharynx). Because of the way the exam is done (patient awake and relaxed), it is the best method for evaluating vocal cord motion. Additionally, because the tip can be manipulated, this endoscope allows examination of all areas of the throat. The image quality is not as good as that obtained by rigid transoral laryngoscopy. Flexible fiberoptic laryngoscopy can be combined with stroboscopy to further examine vocal cord vibratory capability.
Advances in technology have significantly improved the image quality available through flexible scopes. Cameras have been miniaturized to fit on the end on an endoscope, so that the camera can be place right up against the vocal cords to obtain a truly great image. This latest technology has been adopted by the NYU Voice Center, and has improved our ability to diagnose lesions and other abnormalities in the throat.