February 18, 2009


A laryngoscope is a medical device that is used to obtain a view of the vocal folds and the glottis, which is the space between the cords. A laryngoscope has a light and a lens for viewing and may have a tool to remove tissue. The laryngoscope is inserted through the mouth into the upper airway. The word “laryngoscope” was compounded from “laryngo” + the Greek “skopeo,” to inspect = to inspect the larynx. The word “larynx” is the Greek word meaning upper part of the airway. The laryngoscope was invented in 1830 by a British physician Benjamin Guy Babington.

Laryngoscopes are of different types. A rigid laryngoscope used by anesthesists for intubation typically consists of a handle (incorporating two batteries) and an interchangeable blade with a bulb light source. Laryngoscopes used by otolaryngologists are found in many variations and used for various specialized tasks during endoscopy or surgery of the upper aerodigestive tract.

Types of Laryngoscope Blades

There are many types of laryngoscope blades. The two main types of laryngoscope blades are the curved Macintosh blade and the straight Miller (or Robertshaw) blade. The Macintosh blade sits anterior to the epiglottis and raises it out of the visual pathway, while the Miller blade sits posterior to the epiglottis, trapping it while exposing the glottis and vocal folds.

Uses of Laryngoscope

An indirect or direct laryngoscopy helps a doctor to find the reason behind voice problems, such as a breathy voice, hoarse voice, weak voice, or no voice. It also helps to identify the cause of throat, ear pain, difficulty in swallowing, a feeling of a lump in the throat, or mucus with blood in it, and also to check injuries to the throat, narrowing of the throat (strictures), or blockages in the airway.

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