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This one is about: What is a Nasopharyngoscopy?

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by Carol Edson RN

Many children with cleft palates have the opening repaired early. However, for some children, problems persist even after the closure of the cleft. Diagnostic tools such as Nasopharyngoscopy may be helpful in determining exactly how the child's existing structures look and function. The Nasopharyngoscope is a flexible a lighted fiber optic tube. It is inserted through the nose and/or the mouth to allow observation of the child's nasal and throat surfaces while they are functioning. The child is given a local anesthetic to make the passage of the tube more comfortable. The child must be awake and able to cooperate and follow the instructions of the examiner. Hence, the nasopharyngoscopy is rarely done before the child reaches the age of four or five years old.

The scope itself is connected to a video camera. This allows a continuous recording to be made during the examination. Thus, a permanent record is available for future reference. If later surgical procedures are done, this record will allow for accurate "before and after" comparisons to be done. While the test is being conducted, the child will be asked to make certain sounds, repeat words, say "ahhhh", swallow, etc. This allows an assessment of throat muscle and palate function.

This test helps to confirm such diagnosis as Velopharyngeal Insufficiency (VPI). The whole procedure takes only a few minutes to perform. The only after care required generally consists of not giving the child any food or drink for at least 30 minutes following the procedure, until the local anesthetic wears off.

A nasopharyngoscopy is a technological tool in the medical arsenal available to us to help ensure optimal understanding of each child's unique situation. If your child's medical team recommends this procedure it is in order to better understand the way your child's oral structures are functioning.

-------------------Carol Edson RN is the mother of a cleft-affected daughter. She is also the Nurse consultant for WIDE SMILES Magazine.

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