What is direct rigid laryngoscopy?

Direct Rigid Laryngoscopy
Jump to

Direct rigid laryngoscopy: Overview

Direct rigid laryngoscopy (say "lair-en-GOS-kuh-pee") is a type of procedure. A doctor uses a tube called a scope to look deep into your throat and voice box (larynx).

The doctor may do this procedure for many reasons. He or she may want to take a tissue sample. This is called a biopsy. Or he or she may remove growths from your vocal cords. Sometimes the doctor removes an object stuck in the throat. Other times, the procedure lets the doctor perform other surgery or laser treatment.

You will be asleep during the procedure. The doctor puts the scope in your mouth. Then he or she guides it to the back of your throat.

You will probably go home the same day. But if you have surgery on your vocal cords, you may need to spend the night in the hospital. Most people can go back to work or their usual activities within a week.

How can you care for yourself after direct rigid laryngoscopy?


  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for at least 1 week or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • If your job requires you to use your voice, you may need to take 1 to 2 weeks off from work.


  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • If your throat is swollen or sore, drink clear fluids such as water, apple juice, and flavored ice pops. Avoid hot drinks, soda pop, and citrus juices, such as orange juice. These may cause more swelling and pain.
  • Start out with cool, clear liquids; flavored ice pops; and ice cream. Next, try soft foods like pudding, yogurt, canned or cooked fruit, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes. Do not eat hard or scratchy foods such as chips or raw vegetables until your throat has healed.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Throat care

  • Suck on throat lozenges or gargle with warm salt water to help your sore throat.
  • For several weeks, or until your doctor says it is okay, try to avoid coughing or clearing your throat. If you feel like you need to clear your throat, try taking a few sips of water.

How do you prepare for a direct rigid laryngoscopy?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Do not eat or drink for 8 hours before the procedure. Rigid laryngoscopy is done with a general anesthetic.
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don’t have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It’s a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

After a direct rigid laryngoscopy: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You cough up a lot of blood or have bleeding that lasts for 24 hours.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in the calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You feel like you cannot swallow.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have a fever.

Watch closely for any changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Direct rigid laryngoscopy: Your recovery

Direct rigid laryngoscopy (say "lair-en-GOS-kuh-pee") is a procedure that lets your doctor look at your throat and voice box (larynx). The doctor used a tube, called a scope, to look deep into your throat. The doctor may have used the procedure to take a tissue sample (biopsy), remove growths from the vocal cords, or do other kinds of surgery or laser treatment in the throat. Or the procedure may have been done to remove an object that was stuck in your throat.

After the procedure, you may have some nausea and general muscle aches and may feel tired for 1 to 2 days. Your throat may feel sore or slightly swollen for 2 to 5 days. You may sound hoarse for 1 to 8 weeks, depending on what was done during the procedure.

Your doctor may ask you to speak as little as you can for 1 to 2 weeks after the procedure. If you speak, use your normal tone of voice and do not talk for very long. Whispering or shouting can strain your vocal cords as they are trying to heal. Try to avoid coughing or clearing your throat while your throat heals. These activities can also damage your vocal cords. If your vocal cords were affected during the procedure, rest your voice completely for 3 days.

If nodules or other lesions were removed from your vocal cords, you may have to follow total voice rest (no talking, whispering, or making any other voice sounds) for up to 2 weeks.

If the doctor took a sample of tissue for study, it's normal to spit up a small amount of blood after the procedure. Talk to your doctor about how much bleeding to expect and how long the bleeding may last.

If the doctor took a biopsy, the doctor or nurse will call you with the test results. It may take 2 to 5 days to get the results.

What happens on the day of your direct rigid laryngoscopy?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the procedure.
  • The procedure will take about 10 to 90 minutes.
  • You may have an ice pack on your throat. This is to prevent swelling.

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.