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Diagnostic Tests for Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

What are Diagnostic Tests for Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders?

Diagnostic tests for Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) disorders are defined as studies or procedures performed to confirm or rule out ENT disorders. Before making a treatment plan, your physician needs crucial information for a precise diagnosis, which a diagnostic test provides.

Ear, Nose, and Throat disorders are defined as diseases or conditions that affect the normal functioning of the ear, nose, or throat. Some common ENT disorders include:

Ear Disorders

  • Ear infections
  • Hearing loss
  • Ruptured eardrum
  • Meniere's disease
  • Vertigo or balance problems

Nasal Problems

  • Sinusitis
  • Epistaxis or nosebleeds
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Smell and taste disorders

Throat Problems

  • Tonsilitis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing
  • Vocal cord abnormalities
  • Hoarseness and voice disorders

Dysfunction of the ears, nose, and throat can significantly impact your quality of life and in some instances constitute a medical emergency. If you notice chronic problems, it is recommended that you see your physician as soon as possible.

Diagnostic Tests for Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

To diagnose an ENT disorder, your physician will usually begin with a review of your symptoms and medical history and a thorough inspection of the ears, nose, and throat. This is followed by specific tests or procedures to arrive at a precise diagnosis. These tests may include:

  • Tympanometry: This is a diagnostic test to evaluate the function and movement of the middle ear and eardrum and involves directing air and sound to the middle ear. The test is normally painless and quick unless the middle ear or eardrum is inflamed. The results of the test are indicated on a graph called a tympanogram. The test helps to determine if you require hearing aids or whether other alternative medical intervention is required. Tympanometry is also utilized to diagnose middle ear problems.
  • Audiometry: This is a diagnostic test performed in a soundproof room, where an electrical machine is used to produce sounds at different pitches and volumes in the ear of the patient. The patient will typically be wearing some type of headphones and the tester notes the response of the patient to the different sounds. Audiometry is commonly utilized to evaluate hearing when hearing loss is suspected.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of Internal Acoustic Meatus (IAM): This is a diagnostic test used to rule out meningioma and acoustic neuroma in individuals with one-sided sensorineural hearing loss. The test is performed at a medical imaging center. During the test, the patient is placed inside a narrow chamber. A thin tube is inserted into the vein of the hand and a dye is injected. Images of the head and neck are obtained to look for any abnormalities. The test takes about 30 minutes.
  • Barium swallow study: This is a diagnostic test in which a series of live X-ray images (fluoroscopy) is captured while the patient swallows a chalky-tasting liquid called barium. The barium coats the internal surface of the throat. It shows your physician the entire swallowing process and anatomy as the barium passes through the mouth, pharynx, and esophagus, making it easy to detect any changes in swallowing.
  • Tissue biopsy: This is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue containing a suspicious growth from the throat is removed and examined in the laboratory under a microscope for cancer. A tissue biopsy is highly accurate in ascertaining if a patient has throat cancer.
  • Laryngoscopy: This is a diagnostic procedure that involves the use of a laryngoscope: a special tube-like instrument that allows your doctor to directly visualize your larynx or voice box, which is at the back of your throat. Laryngoscopy is used to detect abnormalities of the throat or vocal cords.
  • Laryngeal electromyography (LEMG): This is a diagnostic procedure to record electrical impulses produced by the muscles of the voice box while engaged in speech. During the test, a thin needle is placed into the neck muscles while electrodes convey the signals to a computer. This test provides specific details as to whether the nerve input into a specific muscle is normal and helps to identify nerve problems or issues with the voice box.
  • Stroboscopy: This is a diagnostic test that utilizes a rapidly flashing light and a video camera to examine the functioning of the vocal cords and the voice box during speech. It is a simple and quick procedure that helps in the detection of underlying problems that may be triggering voice issues, such as hoarseness.
  • Nasal endoscopy: This is a diagnostic procedure in which an endoscope is used to detect problems in the nasal and sinus passages such as nasal tumors and polyps arising from the soft palate. During nasal endoscopy, an endoscope - a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and light source - is carefully guided into the nasal canal to examine the nasal and sinus passages. The high-quality images from the endoscope are shown on a monitor to give a detailed view of any abnormalities in the area.
  • Sinus computer tomography (CT or CAT) scans: This imaging test of the sinuses utilizes special X-ray equipment to assess the cavities of the paranasal sinuses - hollow, air-filled spaces inside the facial bones adjoining the nasal passage. CT scanning is a non-invasive, accurate, and painless procedure. It is also the most definitive imaging technique for establishing sinus obstruction or sinusitis.

Location & DirectionsENT Jacksonville

1370 13th Avenue South, Suite 115 Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

  • American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
  • American College of Surgeons
  • Georgetown University School of Medicine
  • Miller School of Medicine