Nasolaryngoscopy in a family medicine clinic: Indications, findings, and economics

Thad Wilkins, Ralph A. Gillies, April Getz, Dave Zimmerman, Larry Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Nasopharyngeal complaints are common among patients who present to primary care. Patients with these complaints are often referred for nasolaryngoscopy evaluation to exclude serious conditions such as laryngeal cancer. Methods: This study is a retrospective case series in which 276 charts of adult outpatients who were referred for nasolaryngoscopy were reviewed. We examined patient demographics, procedure indications and findings, complications, and changes in clinical management. Results: Nasolaryngoscopy was completed in 273 (98.9%) patients (mean age, 51.3 ± 14.6 years; 71.4% were women). The most common indications for nasolaryngoscopy were hoarseness (51.3%), globus sensation (32.0%), and chronic cough (17.1%); the most common findings included laryngopharyngeal reflux (42.5%), chronic rhinitis (32.2%), and vocal cord lesions (13.2%). Three patients (1.1%) were diagnosed with laryngeal cancer and this diagnosis was significantly associated with a history of smoking (P = .03). No major complications occurred. Conclusions: We found that nasolaryngoscopy was a safe procedure in the primary care setting, and no major complications occurred in our series. Patients who have ever smoked and complain of hoarseness are at higher risk for laryngeal cancer. An alarming 1% of patients in our series were diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. This is the first study to define the rates of laryngopharyngeal reflux, vocal cord lesions, and laryngeal cancer among primary care patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-597
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Laryngeal neoplasms
  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Primary health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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