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Why Can't Physicians Examine the Larynx?

Harold C. Klein, MD
JAMA. 1982;247(15):2111. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320400023027.
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SOME years ago, attention was focused on the almost total failure of the primary physician to detect promptly tumors of the larynx.1 This glaring defect was attributed to an inability to cope with the technical demands of the angled laryngeal mirror that, for more than 100 years, had been the only available tool for looking over the top of the tongue down to the glottic bed. As a solution, the article recommended replacing the mirror with the relatively new laryngeal telescopes and then proceeded to elaborate their virtues for the primary physician. They were so simple that they required little training; they afforded a clear view of the larynx in a high percentage of cases; and the examination required only a minute.

Now the time has come to look back and see who's gaining on whom. With an effective instrument available, are these tumors being discovered earlier? Has there


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