The Voice & Swallowing Center offers state-of-the-art technology for the diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders. One important tool in the evaluation process is known as “videostroboscopy.” Below are some of the frequently asked questions about this simple procedure.

What is videostroboscopy?

Videostroboscopy is one of the most practical methods for viewing and recording the motion of the vocal cords during speaking or singing. A digital computer and strobe light are used to make the images of the vocal cord vibrations appear in slow motion, so that any abnormal patterns of vibration may be detected.

What are the advantages of videostroboscopy?

  • The vibrations of the vocal cords are much too rapid to be observed by the unaided eye under a regular light source. Stroboscopy provides illumination of the larynx with quick pulses of light, which allows for accurate, detailed assessment of vocal cord movement.
  • By viewing these images of the larynx and vocal cords, the speech pathologist, physician and patient can obtain a better understanding of the way the vocal folds are functioning, and develop a specific treatment plan. This helps to determine what changes need to be made in order to treat the problem. Other structural or tissue abnormalities may be detected as well.
  • If a repeat videostroboscopy is needed at a later date, the results can be compared to the previous exam. This allows the voice care team to evaluate the patient's progress.
  • Formal reports, still photos and portions of the video exam can be provided to the other members of the patient's healthcare team.

Who performs this procedure at the Voice & Swallowing Center?

The examination is performed by a licensed speech pathologist, with special training in voice disorders. Results are then communicated to the referring physician, who will make the medical diagnosis.

What should I expect during the procedure?

First, you will be asked to give a brief medical history and a description of your voice or throat problem.

The procedure itself lasts for just 10-15 minutes. A rigid telescope is placed into the mouth OR a small flexible telescope is placed into the nose. The scope will be in the mouth or nose for just a brief time (no longer than 1 minute at a time, usually), and you will always be able to breathe during the test. You will be asked to say various sounds, and a video of the vocal cords will be displayed on a television monitor. (The recording will be replayed for you later, and the anatomy will be explained to you in detail.)

Will I be sedated?

A light spray of topical anesthetic may be used if needed, but there is no sedation necessary. The anesthetic is sweet-tasting, and usually wears off in about 15-20 minutes. There is no need to arrange for someone to drive you to and from the appointment.

Do I need to do any preparation before the procedure?

No special preparation is required. You do not need to refrain from eating prior to your visit.

How long does it take?

The videostroboscopy takes just 10 to 15 minutes, but there will be discussion with the speech pathologist before and interpretation after the procedure. Plan on approximately one hour for the entire evaluation to be completed.