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Videostroboscopy is an advanced voice diagnostic service offered at Eastern Carolina ENT Head & Neck Surgery. In this state-of-the-art examination, a strobe light is used to examine the voice box in great detail. This special flashing light allows the speech-language pathologist and physician to view vibrations of the vocal cords at a very slow rate, thereby allowing for thorough examination, and ultimately, more accurate diagnosis and effecient treatment planning for individuals with voice problems.

A diagram og a normal voice-box

Who performs Videostroboscopy?

A physician or a speech-language pathologist may perform the exam. At Eastern Carolina ENT, stroboscopic exams are performed by the three speech-language pathologists on staff, Ashley K. Abel, M.S.,CCC-SLP, Susan S. Hollowell, M.S.,CCC-SLP, and Kathryn F. Waugh, M.S.,CCC-SLP.

What happens during the Videostroboscopy Examination?

During the exam, the patient is seated upright in a comfortable chair. The patient leans gently forward, and the speech-language pathologist uses a thin, rigid scope attached to a camera to view the vocal cords over the back of the patients tounge. Then, the patient is asked to make an "EEE" sound at various pitches in order to capture an image of the vocal cords moving. The patient is coached throughout the exam and often feels nothing during the examination except the SLP holding the tounge. Rest breaks are included to keep the patient comfortable. Most exams take less than a minute to complete, with much more time being spent on setting up the exam, instructing the patient, and going over the results. Generally, the time spent with the SLP for the entire process can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes depending on various factors.

Videostroboscopy looks at the following:

  • Edges of the vocal folds (Are they smooth or is there a lesion along the surface? Is there swelling?)
  • Muscle tension (Is the patient straining to speak or are the laryngeal muscles relaxed?)
  • Vibrations of the vocal folds (Do the vocal folds consistently vibrate?)
  • Movement of the vocal folds (Do both vocal folds open and close together?)
  • Hydration/ Secretion Management (Is the larynx (voice box) well hydrated?)
  • Airway (Does the patient have an adequate airway for breathing?)

Can I see the video of my vocal cords?

Yes! After the exam is over, the patient will be able to view his/her own video, and all anatomical and physiological findings are explained in great detail. It is possible to send a copy of the video or color pictures of the exam to a referring physician, another SLP who will be providing voice therapy, or any other health care professional if desired.

When is it appropriate to have a Videostroboscopy Examination performed?

The physician you will be seeing will ultimately decide if videostroboscopy is appropriate for you during your visit, but common reasons to perform a videostroboscopy include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • Hoarseness or any change in voice that has not gone away in a reasonable amount of time
  • Chronic throat clearing or coughing
  • Shortness of breath or noisy breathing
  • A feeling of a “lump in the throat”
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Airway clearance, either for future surgeries or removal of tracheostomy tube
  • Previous history of cancer in the voice box

How do I make an appointment?

To make an appointment at Eastern Carolina ENT, please call our office at 252-752-5227 and request an appointment with one of our physicians. You may also request to been seen by our speech-language pathologist for a Videostroboscopy as well; ultimately, your physician will determine if this type of evaluation is warranted during your appointment. Please bring any medical records regarding your voice problem to the appointment.