What is a Rhinoscope?

Sandra Koehler

A rhinoscope is a specialized instrument used in rhinoscopy procedures to look inside the nose or into the nasopharnyx. This tool is known generically as an endoscope. An endoscopy is a minimally-invasive medical procedure used to see inside the body.

Rhinoscopy is typically a diagnostic procedure, although polyps may be removed or biopsies taken.
Rhinoscopy is typically a diagnostic procedure, although polyps may be removed or biopsies taken.

This medical instrument consists of a long, thin, flexible scope with a light and lens for a clear image of the nasal passages and the area behind it, called the nasopharnyx. The nasopharnyx is the uppermost region of the pharynx or throat directly behind the mouth and nasal cavity. A rhinoscope allows for a better view than can be attained through looking inside the mouth or into the nose.

A rhinoscope allows doctors to see areas of the pharynx that are not normally visible.
A rhinoscope allows doctors to see areas of the pharynx that are not normally visible.

Rhinoscopy is a diagnostic procedure. However, some rhinoscopes come with an attachment to perform minor medical techniques such as tissue removal. A rhinoscope designed for tissue removal may come with a forceps attachment. A forceps is a medical instrument used to grasp and hold objects similar to a pair of tweezers. This type of scope has the ability to remove foreign objects or obstructions from the nasal passages.

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Tissue samples removed during a rhinoscopy are checked for abnormalities in a laboratory.
Tissue samples removed during a rhinoscopy are checked for abnormalities in a laboratory.

Other reasons for utilizing a rhinoscope include unilateral nasal discharge of an unknown origin, an obstructive disease process with the suspicion of a tumor, or severe rhinitis. Rhinitis is the medical term for the irritation and inflammation of the nose resulting in a runny nose. Severe cases of rhinitis can be the result of the mold aspergillosis. Aspergillosis infection can result in an increasing severity of asthma symptoms, chest pain or a cough resulting in a bloody discharge. The rhinoscope can help identify the problem by allowing the medical practitioner to retrieve a sample of the mucus or discharge for evaluation.

A rhinoscope may be used to examine the causes of a chronic runny nose.
A rhinoscope may be used to examine the causes of a chronic runny nose.

Biopsy procedures may also be performed using a rhinoscope. This is the removal of tissue or cells. Biopsies are typically performed when there is a suspected disease process such as cancer. By only removing a small sample of tissue, the main structure is kept intact while necessary medical evidence is collected.

Biopsy procedures may be performed using a rhinoscope.
Biopsy procedures may be performed using a rhinoscope.

While the use of a rhinoscope can be slightly uncomfortable, there typically is no pain. If discomfort is interfering with the diagnostic procedure the medical practitioner may choose to use a topical anesthetic such as lidocaine. Another method which may be utilized is called conscious sedation. Conscious sedation is the use of sedatives with or without an analgesic or pain-relieving medication to induce a state of relaxation.

In some cases, patients are put into a state of conscious sedation before the rhinoscopy procedure begins.
In some cases, patients are put into a state of conscious sedation before the rhinoscopy procedure begins.

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