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At UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this test, and we invite you to participate. Please read the following information to learn about the test and how you can help.
Flexible laryngoscopy enables the doctor to get an immediate look at your child’s throat and nasal passages. Flexible tracheoscopy through a pre-existing tracheostomy tube enables the doctor to get an immediate look at your child’s windpipe.
The flexible laryngoscopy often can be done without any medication at all, but sometimes a topical anesthetic and/or a decongestant may be used. The topical anesthetic is applied directly to the nose to numb it. The decongestant helps open up swollen (stuffy) nasal passages. Because the anesthetic and/or the decongestant are the only medications that might be needed, the flexible laryngoscopy can be done right in the doctor’s office during your child’s ENT appointment.
The doctor will be looking for inflammation (swelling), infection, foreign objects or other abnormal conditions in order to determine the best treatment for your child.
The flexible laryngoscope or "scope" consists of an eyepiece and a fiber-optic light enclosed in a thin, flexible tube. The scope looks like a strand of black spaghetti with a tiny light on the end of it. The scope is inserted through the nose, and can be moved around to help the doctor see all areas of a child’s nasal passages and throat.
Laryngoscopy is a safe way for doctors to examine these internal body parts; however, there are some risks involved. Although rare, these risks include possible swelling in the voice box requiring special treatment and overnight observation; voice box injury; or infection, requiring surgical drainage and antibiotics. A nosebleed is also possible from the passing of the scope. Your child’s doctor will discuss these risks with you prior to your child’s test.
Because flexible laryngoscopy may trigger your child’s gagging reflex, your child should not have the test done on a full stomach.
The most important role of a parent or guardian is to help your child stay calm and relaxed before the test. The best way to help your child stay calm is for you to stay calm.
The doctor might give a medication to dry up any swollen lining in your child’s nose and throat, and may suction the nasal cavities with a thin, flexible suction catheter. Depending on your child’s age, a topical anesthetic might be sprayed in your child’s nose to numb it.
Your child may resume normal activities after the test. After a flexible laryngoscopy, you might notice some of the following signs. These symptoms are normal:
Although most children have no problems after the flexible laryngoscopy, you should immediately call your child’s ENT doctor, pediatrician or Children’s Hospital test nurse if your child has any of these symptoms:
If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor needs to know about, please call the Division of Pediatric Otolaryngology (ENT) at Children’s Hospital before the test and ask to speak with a nurse. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs your child might have.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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