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What is a bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that examines your windpipe and lungs using a flexible scope. Similar to an endoscopy, which inspects the stomach, bronchoscopy is recommended by doctors to observe the lungs or to collect a sample from your lungs. Unlike x-rays that capture static images of the lungs, bronchoscopy provides a live view inside, which may not be distinctly visible on x-rays. This procedure aids in diagnosing and determining the appropriate treatment for lung conditions.

A vector image of a bronchoscopy procedure

Why has a bronchoscopy been suggested?

A bronchoscopy is recommended when your doctor suspects something is wrong with your lungs that standard non invasive testing can't diagnose. You may have

  •  a persistent cough​

  • be coughing up blood

  • had a recent chest X-ray or CT scan show a lung abnormality

What happens during this procedure?

The bronchoscope is a flexible tube equipped with multiple channels. One channel directs light into the lungs, another connects to a camera for internal viewing, and there's also a channel for administering local anesthetic and collecting samples. The tube is carefully inserted through a nostril or the mouth and navigated into the windpipe at the throat's rear. During sampling, an X-ray machine may be utilised to accurately position the bronchoscope in the lung. At times, ultrasound may be employed to aid the procedure. Typically, saline water is introduced into the airway and then aspirated to collect germs or cells. Additionally, tools like a small brush, needles, or forceps might be used to gather tissue samples from the lungs or lymph nodes in the chest.

Safety considerations

Bronchoscopy is generally considered a safe and well-tolerated procedure. Your doctor will review the specific safety considerations with you before the procedure.

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