Scoping Procedures: Bronchoscopy, Laryngoscopy, Esophagoscopy, and Laser Surgery

What are scoping procedures?

Your child is having trouble breathing or swallowing. To find out what is causing this problem, the doctor needs to look inside your child�s air or food passageway. To do this, the doctor will use a thin tube with a light and a tiny camera on the end. This device is called a scope.

During the scoping procedure, your child will be given a special �sleep medicine� called a general anesthetic. This means your child will sleep through the procedure and feel no pain.

If the problem is caused by tissue that is not normal, the doctor may remove it using laser surgery.

The doctor who will do the scoping procedure is called an otolaryngologist/head and neck surgeon (say: OH-toe-lar-ing-GOL-oh-jist). This is a doctor who specializes in problems with the ears, nose, and throat.

To look inside your child's air passageway, we use bronchoscopy and laryngoscopy

Your child's air passageway is called the trachea (say: TRAY-key-ah). To look inside, the doctor will use scoping procedures called a bronchoscopy (say: bron-KOSS-co-pee) and a laryngoscopy (say: lar-ing-GOSS-co-pee). During each of these procedures, the doctor will put a scope in your child�s mouth and down into the trachea. The doctor can look through the scope to see what is causing your child�s breathing problem. The procedure takes about 1 hour.

To look inside your child's food passageway, we use esophagoscopy

Your child's food passageway is called the esophagus (say: ee-SOFF-ah-gus). To look inside it, the doctor will use a scoping procedure called an esophagoscopy (say: ee-SOFF-ah-GOSS-co-pee). During this procedure, the doctor will put a scope in your child�s mouth and down into the esophagus. The doctor can look through the scope to see what is causing your child�s swallowing problem. The procedure takes about 1 hour.

Laser surgery

Laser surgery uses a concentrated beam of light instead of a scalpel or knife to remove unwanted tissue or blockages. Laser surgery can be performed during a bronchoscopy, laryngoscopy, and esophagoscopy.

Before the operation

Several hours before the operation, your child will need to stop eating and drinking. The nurse or doctor will tell you when your child must stop eating and drinking. Write this information here:

The date and time of the operation: _____________________

Time when your child must stop eating: __________________

Time when your child must stop drinking clear fluids: ________________

Other things to remember: _________________

Your child will not feel any pain during the procedure

Before the procedure starts, your child will be given a special "sleep medicine" called general anesthetic​. This makes sure your child will sleep through the procedure and will not feel pain. After the procedure, your child�s throat may be sore and feel dry. If your child feels pain after the procedure, she will be given pain medicine as needed.

After the procedure

After the procedure, we will take your child to the recovery room, also called the Post-Anesthetic Care Unit​. This is where your child will wake up. Your child will stay in the recovery room for 1 to 2 hours, depending on her age and symptoms.

After your child has stayed in the recovery room, we will move her to a special room on the otolaryngology unit. This room has a nurse in it at all times. It is called the constant observation room. Your child will probably stay in this room overnight.

You will be able to see your child as soon as she is fully awake

A volunteer from the Surgical Waiting Room will bring you to see your child.

Your child may have a mild cough or hoarse voice when he wakes up. This usually will go away on its own.

Eating and drinking after the procedure

Your child will not be allowed to eat or drink for 2 to 4 hours after the procedure. Check with your child's nurse to see when your child can start eating and drinking. Your child will then start drinking clear liquids such as water or apple juice. Then your child may have soft foods such as Jell-o. After your child is able to drink, your child can start eating her usual food again.

One day and 1 night in the hospital

Your child will be in the hospital for the entire day of the procedure and probably overnight. This will depend on how quickly your child recovers after the procedure. One parent may stay with your child overnight in the constant observation room.

Caring for your child at home

Your child should drink plenty of liquids. Your child should start with eating soft foods. After that, your child can slowly go back to eating what she normally eats.

Your child can bathe as usual.

For the first few days, your child should have quiet activity only. She should stay home from school or day care. Your child can go back to school or day care when she is feeling better, or when your otolaryngology doctor says it is OK.

Your child may have dryness in her throat. A humidifier in your child�s room will help keep her nose and throat moist.

Pain management at home

Follow these instructions when your child goes home after the procedure.

You may give your child medicine for pain.

You may receive a prescription for pain medication before you leave the hospital. Follow the dosage instructions give to you by the pharmacist. Although these prescription pain medications can be beneficial, they are also potentially very dangerous if not used properly.

When using these medications, if you notice any changes in either breathing or level of drowsiness that concern you, stop the medication and seek medical attention. If your child is unresponsive, call 911 immediately.

Do not give your child over-the-counter medicine that may have a sedative effect (makes people sleepy) while giving the prescription for pain medicine. Examples of these medicines are decongestants and antihistamines. Discuss these medications with your pharmacist.

You may give your child acetaminophen (such as Tylenol or Tempra) if he has pain. Give the dose printed on the bottle for your child's age. Do not give your child ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, or Midol) or ASA (Aspirin) for 2 weeks after the surgery. These medications could increase your child's risk of bleeding after the operation. Check with the nurse or doctor first before giving these medicines to your child.

Seeing the otolaryngologist again

Your otolaryngologist will tell you if he needs to see your child again. You will be given an appointment in the otolaryngology clinic if it is needed.

Possible problems after the procedure

Please call your child�s otolaryngologist  or the otolaryngology clinic right away if your child has any of the following signs after going home:

  • trouble swallowing
  • trouble breathing
  • fever of 38.5�C (101�F) or higher
  • chest pain or throat pain that gets worse
  • coughing that gets worse
  • drooling that does not stop
  • vomiting (throwing up) that does not stop
  • bleeding from mouth or nose

If it is an emergency or if you are worried, do not wait. Take your child to the closest emergency department right away.

Write down the name of your child�s otolaryngologist here:

Write down the doctor�s phone number here:

Write down the otolaryngology clinic phone number here:

Write down your family doctor�s name and number here:

Key points

  • Scoping procedures let doctors look into your child�s throat. They take about 1 hour.
  • Your child will have sleep medicine during the procedure.
  • Your child will likely stay for 1 day and 1 night in the hospital.

Jen Subica, RN, BSc
Pauline Lackey, RN
Tomka George, RN
Vito Forte, MD, FRCSC