ENT UK is the professional Association for British Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons and related professionals. This leaflet provides some background information about pharyngoscopy/oesophagoscopy. It may be helpful in the discussions you have with your GP or specialist when deciding on possible treatment. This information leaflet is to support and not to substitute the discussion between you and your doctor. Before you give your consent to the treatment, you should raise any concerns with your GP or specialist.
The pharynx is the upper part of the throat which connects to the oesophageus (gullet) and a pharyngoscopy and oesophagoscopy describe the techniques used to examine them. This may be required to investigate and treat problems with swallowing or pain in that area. Under a general anaesthetic Mr Fish will pass a long metal tube (pharyngoscope or oesophagoscope) through your mouth into your gullet. This allows him to look at the inside of the gullet to identify any problems that may be affecting your swallowing or causing pain. If there are any problem areas, a small part of the lining of the gullet is taken away for laboratory examination. This is called a biopsy. Pharyngoscopy and oesophagoscopy are quite quick and usually take less than 30 minutes. Sometimes they are performed together with a microlaryngoscopy or direct laryngoscopy
Pharyngoscopy and oesophagoscopy are very safe. You may have a sore throat afterwards and your neck may be a little stiff. Very rarely, there is a risk that the metal tubes may chip your teeth or bruise your lips or gums. Mr Fish uses a tooth guard to minimise the chance of this happening. If Mr Fish needs to take a biopsy or stretch the gullet during the oesophagoscopy, there is a very small risk of a tear in the lining of the gullet. This sometimes causes a leak through the wall of the gullet. If this happens, you will need to stay in hospital and not eat or drink anything. You will then be fed with either a small tube through your nose into your stomach, or through a drip into a vein in your arm. This allows you to get special liquid food, while the leak in the wall of the gullet heals up. This may take several days and very occasionally would need another operation to help to fix it.
If you have a history of neck problems, you should inform Mr Fish about this before your operation. Please also advise him of any loose or capped teeth before the operation.
Mr Fish will usually be able to tell you what was found, and what he has done on the same day as your operation. If any biopsies were taken, these normally take up to two weeks to process in a laboratory. Mr Fish will arrange to see you again for your results.
You may be kept from eating or drinking for a few hours after the procedure but often you can go home the same day as the operation, as long as you have someone with you. Depending on how you feel afterwards, you may need to stay overnight for observation.
Depending on your job, you may be advised to stay off for a few days to rest your throat.
Pharyngoscopy and Oesophagoscopy are the most suitable technique used for examining the upper part of the gullet. Sometimes it is possible to undertake this with a flexible endoscope under local anaesthetic. However if you need your lower oesophagus or stomach looked at then a larger flexible endoscope is used. This examination will be performed by a gastroenterologist who will be able to tell you about the procedure.