What is a bronchoscopy used to diagnose?

What is a bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy is performed with the use of a rigid bronchoscope or a fiberoptic bronchoscope, depending on the location. The doctor using this instrument can look into the bronchial passages. The bronchoscope is a slender tube with a light at the far end which slides down the throat and into the bronchi.

Bronchoscopy sounds like a very uncomfortable procedure. Is it? 

It doesn't need to be if you cooperate with your physician and the anesthesiologist. Local anesthesia is sprayed into the throat and bronchial tubes, making them feel numb. The bronchoscope is put into only one bronchus at a time, so you have no trouble breathing normally during the examination. You are relaxed and responsive to instructions and remain awake, although you will not remember much of the procedure afterward. Your head will be draped and your eyes covered. You will be asked to cough so that the doctor can obtain a good sample.

What does the doctor see during the bronchoscopy? 

Looking through the bronchoscope, the doctor can illuminate the walls of the bronchi and examine the area. The development of new, flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopes means that the doctor can see around corners and into the inside of much smaller bronchial tubes. The flexibility of the instrument makes it possible for the doctor to take cell samples, using special attachments for biopsy, brushing, scraping, or washing.

How is a bronchoscopy done

Once the tumor is found, a small bit ofliquid can be squirted through the bronchoscope onto the tumor and then withdrawn by suction. This liquid is then examined under the microscope for the presence of tumor cells, just as a sputum specimen might be. A slender cutting tool can be put through the bronchoscope. The doctor uses it to snip a small sample of tissue, which can then be examined under the microscope.

How to do bronchoscopy

Are there any aftereffects of a bronchoscopy? 

It is common for patients to cough up a small amount of blood after a specimen has been taken. This should be no cause for alarm. Some patients have a sore throat or hoarseness. Many people report no discomfort.


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