A bronchoscopy is a technique that allows a doctor to examine the lungs’ interior. A bronchoscope is used for this purpose. A thin, flexible tube with a light and a lens or tiny video camera at the end is used for this. The tube is inserted into your lungs’ airways (bronchi and bronchioles) through your nose or mouth, down your neck, through your trachea (windpipe), and into your bronchi and bronchioles.
What is the purpose of a bronchoscopy?
A bronchoscopy may be required for a variety of reasons:
To figure out why you’re having lung issues, consult your doctor.
This test is done to determine the source of abnormalities in the lungs’ airways (such as trouble breathing or coughing up blood).
You have a suspicious spot on your body that might be cancerous.
Bronchoscopy can be performed to examine a suspicious region discovered via an imaging examination (such as a chest x-ray or CT scan).
Any suspicious spots observed with the bronchoscope in the airways can be biopsied to determine if they are cancerous. Long, thin devices such as tiny forceps (tweezers), hollow needles, or brushes are sent down the bronchoscope to collect the samples. By sending sterile saltwater down the bronchoscope to clean the airways and then sucking up the fluid, the doctor can collect cells from the lining of the airways. (A bronchial cleaning is what this is called.) After that, the biopsy samples are examined in the lab.
To examine lymph nodes in the vicinity of your lungs
Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) can be used to look at the lymph nodes and other structures in the region between the lungs during bronchoscopy. A bronchoscope with microphone-like equipment called a transducer on its tip is used for this test. It’s inserted into the airways and may be directed in various directions to examine surrounding lymph nodes and other tissues. The transducer sends out sound waves, which are picked up by echoes when they bounce off the structures and translated into a picture on a computer screen.
A hollow needle can be inserted via the bronchoscope and directed into questionable regions, such as swollen lymph nodes, to take a biopsy. (This is referred to as TBNA or transbronchial needle aspiration.)
For the treatment of certain lung diseases
Bronchoscopy is used to treat obstructed airways or other lung issues. A tiny laser attached to the end of a bronchoscope, for example, can be used to burn away a portion of a tumor that is obstructing an airway. Alternatively, a bronchoscope can be used to insert a hard tube known as a stent into an airway to keep it open.
Bronchoscopy problems that might occur
Bronchoscopy is typically painless, however, it does carry the risk of:
- Bleeding into the lungs
- Infecting lungs (pneumonia)
- causing collapse in some part of lungs (pneumothorax)
- After the bronchoscopy, your doctor may request a chest x-ray to check for pneumothorax (or other lung problems). Some issues may resolve on their own, but if they are producing symptoms (such as breathing difficulties), they may require treatment.
- When you have chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, blood in your cough, or a fever that won’t go away, consult your doctor immidiately.