Videostroboscopy is how Speech Language Pathologists view a patient's vocal cords. This is to determine if there is a structural or anatomical cause to a patient's complaints. Our vocal folds vibrate in our larynx so fast that they can't be seen in motion with a normal light shining on them. This technology utilizes a strobe light source to emit light pulses at a slower rate than the vibrating vocal folds causing them to appear as though they are in slow motion. Normal, healthy vibratory dynamics include white symmetrical vocal folds with normal amplitude, periodicity, mucosal wave and closure.
Any patient who is recommended for voice therapy should be evaluated with this exam prior to receiving any skilled intervention. This is to make sure there are not contraindications for therapy. This exam may reveal changes in the look of the tissue surrounding your vocal cords, indicating you may have acid reflux. It may discover that you have a polyp, like Adele. It may reveal that you are overcompensating with your muscles after an upper respiratory infection. Whatever the concern, Speech Language Pathologists use this exam because it allows us to see what the naked eye cannot: vocal cord motion.
The camera is attached to a metal rod with a 70 degree angled lens and will simply rest on your tongue. The Speech Language Pathologist will have you sit on the edge of your chair, lean forward, and stick your tongue out. You will say the vowel "eeeee" and a series of other tasks with the scope in your mouth. The Speech Language Pathologist will hold your tongue with gauze, warm the tip of the scope in warm water to prevent fogging of the camera, and gently rest the scope on your tongue.
Sometimes, a topical anesthetic will be sprayed onto the back of your throat to diminish any reactions you may have to the presence of the scope in your mouth. This allows for a quick and thorough examination. Most patients, however, do not require this.
Imagine you are a mountain climber and you have climbed into your own mouth, crawled along your tongue and are now peeking over the edge into your throat. You look up and there is your uvula. You look down and you see two white V shaped muscles. These are your vocal cords.