Flexible versus rigid laryngoscopy: A randomized crossover study comparing patient experience

Bhavishya S. Clark, William Z. Gao, Caitlin Bertelsen, Janet S. Choi, Hagit Shoffel-Havakuk, Lindsay S. Reder, Edie R. Hapner, Michael M. Johns, Karla O'Dell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To compare flexible distal-chip laryngoscopy (FDL) versus rigid telescopic laryngoscopy (RTL) in regard to examinees' pain level, comfort, satisfaction, and preference, and to evaluate the clinician's assessment of the examinees' experience with both exam types. Study Design: Randomized crossover study. Methods: Twenty-three normal adult subjects were recruited to undergo both FDL and RTL; the initial exam type was randomized. Subjects and clinicians completed corresponding questionnaires after each exam. Differences in participant characteristics and questionnaire scores between the two exam types were assessed via Pearson χ2 and paired t tests, respectively. Results: Overall, participants reported that FDL was more uncomfortable than RTL (4.22 vs. 2.91, P =.003) and scored higher on the pain scale for FDL compared to RTL (2.91 vs. 1.70, P =.006). However, there was no significant difference in number of participants who preferred FDL versus RTL (10 [43%] vs. 13 [57%]). Poor correlation was seen between clinicians' assessment of participants' discomfort and actual reported discomfort for FDL (2.70 vs. 4.22, P =.001). Conclusions: Subjects undergoing FDL experience greater discomfort and pain compared to RTL, but do not demonstrate a differential preference of exam. Overall, clinicians underestimate the discomfort of patients undergoing FDL, but participants maintain high satisfaction with both exams nonetheless. Level of Evidence: 1 Laryngoscope, 130:2663–2666, 2020.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2663-2666
Number of pages4
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Indirect laryngoscopy
  • comfort
  • flexible laryngoscopy
  • pain
  • patient experience
  • preference
  • rigid laryngoscopy
  • satisfaction


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