One place where endoscopy is especially useful is in the care of ear, nose, and throat conditions. Each of these areas have a specific type of endoscopic procedure, and here we will cover the basics of each of them.
Nasal or sinus endoscopy is called rhinoscopy. Rhinoscopy is performed by an allergist or an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist). The purpose of rhinoscopy is to visually inspect the nasal passages sinuses, septum, larynx, and nearby structures for abnormalities, such as structural defects, diagnose or remove nasal polyps, blockages, or determine or treat injury. Rhinoscopy can be used to diagnose recurrent or resistant sinusitis, drain the sinuses, apply antibiotics, or determine the cause of nasal discharge such as mucous or in the case of nosebleeds, or identify the cause of sneezing, snoring, or noisy breathing. This procedure is performed in office, usually in conjunction with a CT scan. A topical decongestant to reduce swelling and widen the passages to allow for the endoscope, as well as a topical anesthetic, which numbs the nose and helps decrease the chance of sneezing, will be applied prior to the procedure via a spray. The procedure is for most patients painless, side effects are minimal, and is considered a generally safe procedure.
Laryngoscopy is the term which signifies the endoscopic procedure diagnosing and treating conditions of the larynx. The procedure is performed by a physician, usually an otolaryngologist, or a surgeon. Laryngoscopy can detect abnormalities such as inflammation, lesions, and strictures within the larynx, to obtain tissue biopsy in the case of confirmed or suspected cancer of the larynx, to identify the cause of persistent or bloody cough, hoarseness, throat pain, bad breath, difficulty swallowing or a feeling of a lump in the throat, or other laryngeal problems such as a breathy, or weak voice or loss of voice, or to to remove foreign objects or polyps from the larynx. When the procedure is combined with bronchoscopy and esophagogastroduodenoscopy this variation is known as panendoscopy. For flexible laryngoscopy, the procedure is performed in the office, usually taking about 10 minutes. A local anesthetic is sprayed into the back of your nose and throat to numb the area and aid in suppressing the gag reflex. The patient may be asked to perform certain tasks to provide the doctor with differing views of the area. If a rigid laryngoscopy is performed, general anesthesia is administered and the procedure is performed in an operating room, and should be expected to take approximately 30 minutes to an hour on average. Flexible laryngoscopy side effects include temporary hoarseness and a sore throat. Rare complications include inadvertent injury of the mouth or throat, excessive swelling, bleeding, infection, pain, vomiting and gagging. Rigid laryngoscopy additionally carries all risks associated with procedures carried out under general anesthesia.
A common and popular procedure performed with an endoscope for the ear is endoscopic ear wax removal. The endoscope is used to directly visualise the ear wax, ear canal, and ear drum. Gentle suction with a low pressure suction machine is often used to remove the wax substance. This is known as endoscopic ear suction. The procedure is performed by Audiologists, Hearing Aid Dispensers and ENT doctors using an endoscope for the ear, called an oto-endoscope. The procedure generally takes about 10 to 25 minutes, with the patient awake and upright, though this time varies depending on the amount of ear wax, consistency of the ear wax, and depth of the wax within the canal. The procedure is considered safe and well tolerated, though there are risks. In rare cases, there may beu00a0 damage and trauma to the ear canal and eardrum, including perforation, temporary or permanent hearing loss, or ringing of the ear (tinnitus). Some patients experience dizziness or vertigo due to the colling effect of the suction within the ear, and this typically is short lasting.
Other, more specialized types of endoscopy not discussed here are also associated with ear, nose, and throat medicine. Always discuss any questions and concerns with your doctor, especially regarding risks of your procedure, and medications you may be taking.