What Is A Bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy is a simple outpatient procedure that is used to inspect various parts of the upper and lower airways including the larynx, trachea, and upper throat using a thin viewing instrument known as a bronchoscope, similar to an endoscope.

Purpose Of A Bronchoscopy

A bronchoscopy is recommended as part of the diagnostic testing for problems associated with your airways. The bronchoscope allows us to view the neck, lungs, and even the lymph nodes of the chest. The procedure is also recommended for removing any foreign objects that are blocking the airways and perform a biopsy of suspicious tissue.

How Is A Bronchoscopy Performed?

Bronchoscopies have quite a few benefits including the fact that they can be carried out with the patient awake and do not require IVs, oxygen tubes, oxygen monitors, or blood pressure monitors.

The first step is to numb the inside of the throat with lidocaine so that the patient remains as comfortable as possible. We can then place the bronchoscope between the two sets of teeth, over the tongue, and down the trachea. A bronchoscope is an extremely thin metal tube that is both hollow and illuminated to give us a better view. Our team will also use mouth or tooth guards so that your teeth will not be injured.

Once the bronchoscope is in place, we will then carefully inspect the bronchial tube and trachea and look for any suspicious growths. If any suspicious soft tissue is found, then a small sample can be taken. Other instruments can be used to remove any foreign bodies or mucus plugs if needed. The tube is then withdrawn, and the procedure is over.

There are two types of bronchoscopy:

Flexible Bronchoscopy For a flexible bronchoscopy, the physician uses a long and thin tube that is lit from end to end for a better view the airways. This is generally the preferred method due to a number of unique benefits. With a flexible bronchoscopy, the patient does not need general anesthesia, it is often found to be more comfortable, and it gives the specialist a more complete view of the area.

Rigid Bronchoscopy For a rigid bronchoscopy, the physician uses a straight and long metal tube instead of a smaller flexible tube. Rigid bronchoscopies are typically recommended:

  • To remove larger tissue samples
  • If there is serious bleeding
  • To clear larger obstructions
  • To dilate the airway for other instruments

Expectations of Outcome

The expected outcome of the bronchoscopy is the removal of any foreign bodies. For patients that have had a biopsy, further testing will need to be carried out on the tissue to determine if the cells are cancerous.