BRONCHOSCOPY

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Bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to look at your airway through a thin viewing instrument called a bronchoscope. During a Bronchoscopy your doctor will examine your throat, larynxtrachea, and lower airways.

Bronchoscopy may be done to diagnose problems with the airway, the lungs, or with the lymph nodes in the chest, or to treat problems such as an object or growth in the airway.

There are two types of Bronchoscopy.

  • Flexible Bronchoscopyuses a long, thin, lighted tube to look at your airway. The flexible bronchoscope is used more often than the rigid bronchoscope because it usually does not require general anesthesia, is more comfortable for the person, and offers a better view of the smaller airways. It also allows the doctor to remove small samples of tissue (biopsy).

  • Rigid Bronchoscopy is usually done with general anesthesia and uses a straight, hollow metal tube. It is used:

  • When there is bleeding in the airway that could block the flexible scope’s view.

  • To remove large tissue samples for biopsy.

  • To clear the airway of objects (such as a piece of food) that cannot be removed using a flexible bronchoscope.

 

Why It Is Done

Bronchoscopy may be used to:

  • Find the cause of airway problems, such as bleeding, trouble breathing, or a long-term (chronic) cough.

  • Take tissue samples when other tests, such as a chest X-ray or CT scan, show problems with the lung or with lymph nodes in the chest.

  • Diagnose lung diseases by collecting tissue or mucus (sputum) samples for examination.

  • Diagnose and determine the extent of lung cancer.

  • Remove objects blocking the airway.

  • Check and treat growths in the airway.

  • Control bleeding.

  • Treat areas of the airway that have narrowed and are causing problems.

  • Treat cancer of the airway using radioactive materials (brachytherapy).

 

How It Is Done

You may be asked to remove dentures, eyeglasses or contact lenseshearing aids, wigs, makeup, and jewelry before the Bronchoscopy procedure. You will empty your bladder before the procedure. You will need to take off all or most of your clothes (you may be allowed to keep on your underwear if it does not interfere with the procedure). You will be given a cloth or paper covering to use during the procedure.

The procedure is done by a pulmonologist and an assistant. Your heart rateblood pressure, and oxygen level will be checked during the procedure.

A chest X-ray may be done before and after the Bronchoscopy.

Flexible Bronchoscopy

During this procedure, you will lie on your back on a table with your shoulders and neck supported by a pillow, or you will recline in a chair that resembles a dentist’s chair. Sometimes the procedure is done while you are sitting upright.

You will be given a sedative to help you relax. You may have an intravenous line (IV) placed in a vein. You will remain awake but sleepy during the procedure.

Before the procedure, your doctor usually sprays a local anesthetic into your nose and mouth. This numbs your throat and reduces your gag reflex during the procedure. If the bronchoscope is to be inserted through your nose, your doctor may also place an anesthetic ointment in your nose to numb your nasal passages.

Your doctor gently and slowly inserts the thin bronchoscope through your mouth (or nose) and advances it to the vocal cords. Then more anesthetic is sprayed through the bronchoscope to numb the vocal cords. You may be asked to take a deep breath so the scope can pass your vocal cords. It is important to avoid trying to talk while the bronchoscope is in your airway.

An X-ray machine (fluoroscope) may be placed above you to provide a picture that helps your doctor see any devices, such as forceps to collect a biopsy sample, that is being moved into your lung. The bronchoscope is then moved down your larger breathing tubes (bronchi) to examine the lower airways.

If your doctor collects sputum or tissue samples for biopsy, a tiny biopsy tool or brush will be used through the scope. A salt (saline) fluid may be used to wash your airway, then the samples are collected and sent to the lab to be studied.

Rigid Bronchoscopy

This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia. You will lie on your back on a table with your shoulders and neck supported by a pillow.

You will be given a sedative to help you relax. You will have an intravenous line (IV) placed in a vein. Once you are asleep, your head will be carefully positioned with your neck extended. A tube (endotracheal) will be placed in your windpipe (trachea) and a machine will help you breathe. Your doctor then slowly and gently inserts the bronchoscope through your mouth and into your windpipe.

If your doctor collects sputum or tissue samples for biopsy, a tiny biopsy tool or a brush will be inserted through the scope. A salt (saline) fluid may be used to wash your airway, then the samples are collected and sent to the lab for biopsy.

 

Recovery after Bronchoscopy

Bronchoscopy by either procedure usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes. You will be in recovery for 1 to 3 hours after the procedure. Following the procedure:

  • Do not eat or drink anything for 1 to 2 hours, until you are able to swallow without choking. After that, you may resume your normal diet, starting with sips of water.

  • Spit out your saliva until you are able to swallow without choking.

  • Do not drive for at least 8 hours after the procedure.

  • Do not smoke for at least 24 hours.