Nasendoscopy is a technique used very commonly by ENT surgeons to examine their patients. It is also known as “flexible laryngoscopy”. Using a thin endoscope (a flexible camera), we can examine the entirety of the nasal cavity, the back of the nose, the upper throat (pharynx) and the vocal cords (larynx). Sometimes a rigid endoscope (of similar width) is used, if the surgeon only needs to examine the nasal cavity.
It can sound daunting to have an “endoscopy”, but in fact nasendoscopy is very different, and much briefer, than other forms of endoscopy you may be familiar with. It is performed on a large proportion of our patients in the course of a normal clinic appointment, including on children, and we consider it a standard examination technique rather than a “procedure” as such.
How is nasendoscopy performed?
In general, nasendoscopy is extremely straightforward, and takes no more than one minute to perform. You do not need to lie down, have sedation, or refrain from eating or drinking beforehand. The endoscope used is only 3-4 mm in width, and is flexible so it can navigate carefully through your nose.
You will be sitting upright and the endoscope is passed gently into the nose.
The main sensation you will feel is pressure in your nostril. This can be uncomfortable, but since the procedure is so short, most people have no difficulty in tolerating it. If your nose is narrow or congested, we can use a numbing decongestant spray to make it easier. The examination is easiest and quickest if you breathe through your nose throughout.
At the back of the nose, the endoscope is angled downward so your throat and vocal cords can be viewed. A common concern is that you may gag or be sick due to the endoscope (as can happen with stomach endoscopy). However, because the scope is in the nose rather than the mouth, patients almost never experience gagging, as the scope cannot be felt in the throat.
During the examination I may ask you to stick your tongue out, or say something so your vocal cords move. After thirty to sixty seconds, the scope is carefully withdrawn.