Nasopharyngoscopy is also called nasopharynx endoscopy. It is a diagnostic medical procedure that involves the examination of the internal structures of the nose and throat (nasopharynx) to detect and diagnose abnormalities in the nasopharyngeal area.
A thin, flexible instrument called a nasopharyngoscope is inserted into the nose and throat through the nostrils. The scope has a camera and is connected to a light source. The camera is connected to a monitor to view the magnified video and images captured by the camera. The videos can be recorded for future reference. This procedure is performed by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon (otorhinolaryngologist). Some nasopharyngoscopes are also equipped with suction apparatus and forceps (grasping instruments) that can be used to clear the nose, sinus, or throat and perform a biopsy (collection of tissue samples) if needed.
This is typically an outpatient procedure and usually only takes a few minutes. Local anesthesia is used in the nose and throat to minimize discomfort. It can also be performed in children. Children may require a mild sedative to undergo the procedure.
Why is a nasopharyngoscopy done?
A nasopharyngoscopy helps ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeons to examine the nose and sinus and detect abnormalities. It can help to evaluate the following conditions:
- Constant nasal congestion
- Chronic sinusitis
- Nasal polyps or abnormal growth in the nose
- Nasal tumors
- Nasal obstruction
- Foreign body in the nose or throat
- Epistaxis (bleeding through the nose)
- Dysphonia (problems with speech)
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Dysphasia (difficulty swallowing)
- Progress after nasopharynx surgery or medical treatment
How is a nasopharyngoscopy performed?
The patient sits up straight in a chair. A child might need to sit on the parent's lap. The doctor sprays a mixture of topical anesthetic and decongestant into each nostril that trickles down the throat. This spray opens up and numbs the nasal passages and throat, minimizing discomfort. The doctor inserts a flexible endoscope into the nostril and down the throat. The doctor watches the video on the monitor to study the structures and detect abnormalities. The doctor can also insert instruments such as forceps (grasping instruments) or suction catheters along with the scope. The doctor may take a biopsy or suction out secretions during a nasopharyngoscopy. The doctor can even remove a foreign body, if present, during the procedure. The scope is removed after the procedure that only takes a few minutes. The anesthesia numbs the throat, so the patients should avoid eating or drinking anything for about 30 minutes till the topical anesthesia wears off.
What are the risks of a nasopharyngoscopy?
Endoscopy of the nasopharynx allows ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors to visualize the structures in the respiratory tract. The procedure is quick and minimally invasive. It is a routinely performed outpatient procedure. The risk of complications is very low. It comes with a few risks. Some complications include laceration, bleeding, vomiting, and respiratory collapse. These complications are usually rare and easily avoided if the procedure is performed by a highly experienced doctor and if the patient is cooperative.
There are also no absolute contraindications to perform a nasal endoscopy. The procedure would have to be performed with caution in patients with bleeding disorders, with cardiovascular diseases, who are taking anticoagulants, or with sexually transmitted diseases such as hepatitis B or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Hence, it is important for the doctor to be informed of the patient’s complete medical history.
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