Videostroboscopy or stroboscopy is a noninvasive diagnostic procedure. This is done to evaluate the vocal cords and the surrounding structures. It provides the doctor with a slow-moving, magnified view of your vocal cords in action. It is performed by an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) surgeon. The advantage of this procedure is that it helps diagnose vocal cord problems even before they show up on other diagnostic tests. It also evaluates several vocal parameters and helps view irregular motion and other conditions of the vocal folds. The doctor can also assess the surrounding tissues and muscles in the larynx. The vocal cords' vibrations are too fast for the doctor to evaluate with the naked eye or laryngoscope. The videostroboscope provides higher illumination and magnification. The strobe produces extremely fast light pulses, allowing for a detailed and accurate assessment of vocal cord motion, such as the mucosal movement and waves. Based on the findings during videostroboscopy, the doctor and speech therapist can help advise a treatment plan for the patient. Videostoboscopy is the gold standard in laryngeal examinations.
Why is videostroboscopy done?
- Videostroboscopy is usually performed to:
- Identify the cause of voice dysfunction or change, such as vocal cord inflammation, infection, or injury
- Visualize the movement and function of the vocal cords
- Understand vocal fold motion biomechanics, surface movement of vocal cords, and vibration
- Identify the even small lesions and irregularities like inflammation, scar tissue, or muscle tension disorders
- Assess of swallowing issues
How is videostroboscopy performed?
Videostroboscopy is an outpatient procedure. It is performed under topical anesthesia (local anesthetic spray is used in the throat) to reduce discomfort. The patient sits upright during the procedure. The doctor places a specialized right endoscope connected to a camera and light source. The camera is connected to a monitor where the magnified images/video is displayed. This can be recorded for future reference.
After the procedure:
Patients can go home right after the procedure and resume their normal activities. The throat would be numb because of the local anesthesia; hence, the patient should avoid eating or drinking anything for 30 to 60 minutes, till the anesthesia wears off completely.
What are the signs and symptoms of a vocal cord disorder?
Symptoms can vary depending on the vocal cord disorder. The following signs and symptoms indicate there might be a problem in the vocal cords:
What problems can occur in the vocal cord?
Common vocal cord disorders include:
- Vocal cord nodules: Benign, small, firm to hard growths caused mainly due to voice abuse. They are also called singer's, screamer's, or teacher's nodules.
- Vocal cord polyps: Benign, small, soft growths that are usually caused by vocal abuse or long-term exposure to irritants, such as chemical fumes, cigarette smoke, chronic acid reflux.
- Contact ulcers: Erosions and sores on the vocal cords. They may occur in people who speak often with great force, for example, public speakers. Ulcers also can be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn.
- Laryngitis: Swelling of the vocal cords due to inflammation or infections commonly caused by vocal abuse, allergies, exposure to irritants, such as cigarette smoke, chemical fumes, or excessive alcohol.
- Vocal cord tumors: Tumors can be cancerous or noncancerous. Noncancerous tumors may be caused by a virus. Cancerous tumors are more common in smokers and those who consume excessive alcohol.
- Vocal cord paresis and vocal cord paralysis: Vocal cord paresis (weakness) or paralysis (loss of function) occurs when one or both vocal cords don't open and close properly affecting speech and/or breathing. Vocal cord paresis and paralysis can occur due to head and neck injury, birth or surgical trauma, neurological diseases, stroke, or viral infections. Also, the cause may be idiopathic (unidentifiable cause).