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Laryngoscopes

A laryngoscope is a rigid or flexible type of endoscope placed in a patient's mouth to view the throat and voice box (larynx). It can have an LED light source and magnifier attached to it, or it can be a disposable design. Doctors use scopes for diagnostic purposes or to perform certain surgical procedures.

How is a laryngoscopy done?

A laryngoscopy is a relatively painless procedure done in a doctor's office. During the procedure, vocal cords are examined in detail, often with real-time video produced using fiber-optic illumination with an LED light and displayed on a monitor. There are three types of laryngoscopies that can be performed.

  • Direct laryngoscopy: Performed under general anesthesia while the individual is lying down, a direct laryngoscopy allows the vocal cords to be viewed directly.
  • Indirect laryngoscopy: With an indirect laryngoscopy, individuals are seated in a chair while their vocal cords are viewed.
  • Fiber-optic laryngoscopy: A fiber-optic laryngoscope with an LED light and a magnifier is used with this type of laryngoscopy. The flexible scope with the LED light is inserted through the nostril or mouth.
What is a laryngoscope blade used for?

Laryngoscope blades attach to the handle and make an electrical connection when the scope is extended. Laryngoscope blades are used for the examination of the inside of the larynx. They are also used for placement of an endotracheal tube in the patient's throat. Straight laryngoscope blades are the ones used most often.

How do you clean a laryngoscope?

While some laryngoscopes are designed for single use only, some can be used more than once. If you will be using your laryngoscope again, take the following steps to clean it:

  • Remove the batteries.
  • Rinse it under cool running tap water immediately after use.
  • Use high-level disinfection or sterilization.
  • Rinse all hard to reach areas.
  • Thoroughly wipe it dry.
What are some of the different types of laryngoscope blades?

The type of blade you choose will depend on the intended use of the laryngoscope. For instance, a curved blade is better for reaching behind the epiglottis, while a straight blade is best for lifting the epiglottis to reveal the vocal cords, which is more useful in pediatrics since young children have a long, floppy epiglottis. Common blades include the following:

  • MacIntosh: This is the most common type. It attaches to the handle at 90 degrees.
  • Kessel: Similar to the Macintosh, this one attaches to the handle at 110 degrees.
  • McCoy: Manipulated by a thumb-controlled handle, this one has a a moveable distal tip segment.
  • Magill: This straight blade has a cross-section that's U-shaped.
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