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Common procedures: Laryngoscopy

Common procedures: Laryngoscopy

A procedure used by physicians to inspect the larynx, laryngoscopies are typically used after patients complain of symptoms of the throat and voice box. Laryngoscopies are performed using a medical tool known as a laryngoscope. This article will take a closer look at the procedure, before detailing the importance of single-use laryngoscopes in the fight against cross-contamination in a clinical setting. 

A closer look at laryngoscopy
Laryngoscopies are performed by ear, nose and throat specialists to gain a closer look at a patient's voice box and vocal chords, the Canadian Cancer society explained. The procedure is usually conducted with a special tool known as a laryngoscope, an article from New York's Mount Sinai hospital explained. Available in either rigid or flexible format, laryngoscopes are special tubes that allow for a close up view of the area. They typically contain a light source on the end. 

There are three major forms of the laryngoscopy procedure, the Canadian Cancer Society detailed. They are:

  • Direct flexible laryngoscopy: The patient is required to sit up straight in a chair while the doctor inserts a flexible laryngoscope. The tool is inserted via the nasal cavity and pushed down into the throat. Patients are often numbed using local anesthetic in spray form. This prevents pain and dulls the gag reflex. The procedure is outpatient and usually performed in the specialist's office and tends to take no more than 10 minutes or so. In some cases it may take less time and in other cases it may last slightly longer.
  • Indirect laryngoscopy: This approach involves the use of special mirror that the ear, nose and throat doctor will place toward the back of a patient's throat to get a closer look at the affected area. A lightsource is provided via headgear worn by the doctor. Much like a direct flexible laryngoscopy, patients are awake and numbed with a spray form of local anesthetic. They are required to sit up straight. The procedure last a similar amount of time on average – anywhere from five minutes to over 10 minutes and longer in some instances.
  • Direct rigid laryngoscopy: A much more involved procedure, direct rigid laryngoscopies are often used to perform medical procedures, such as removing polyps. If cancer is suspected. direct rigid laryngoscopies can also be used for biopsy purposes, via the collection of larynx tissue samples. Patients are placed under general anesthetic for this procedure. 

Why is laryngoscopy performed?
When a patient experiences throat symptoms that could indicate conditions such as cancer or polyps, a doctor may recommend a laryngoscopy, Healthline explained. Common symptoms that often necessitate this kind of intervention include: The sensation of a lump or mass in the throat area, problems with swallowing, coughing up blood, a persistent cough, pain in the throat, earache and halitosis.

Laryngoscopies are usually performed in the doctor's office.Laryngoscopies are usually performed in the doctor's office.

The importance of single-use laryngoscopes
It is common practice in health care facilities nationwide to utilize reusable medical tools, including laryngoscopes. These devices are used on a patient, before undergoing a disinfection process with special chemicals. Once clean, the tools are used again on another patient and the cycle repeats itself. Widely thought to be safe, recent studies, however, have indicated that reusable tools may actually pose a threat of cross-contamination.

A report from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, for example, detailed that evidence has shown that is possible for small amounts of blood and saliva to survive the disinfection process and remain on the blades of reusable laryngoscopes. Consequently, patients are at a small risk of becoming infected with certain forms of bacteria, as well as viruses such as HIV and Hepatitis B. Given that both HIV and Hepatitis B are chronic conditions that can have a major impact on a patient's life, any risk of cross-contamination with these viruses is arguably too big.

The solution, therefore, is for medical facilities to use single-use medical tools. Designed to be utilized exclusively on one patient, single-use tools are safely disposed of after first use, eliminating the risk of cross-contamination. 

OBP Medical has a range of easy-to-use single-use devices with safe LED light sources, including single-use laryngoscopes. To learn more and request a free sample, click here.