Bronchoscopy is used to view the airways and diagnose lung disease. It may also be used during treatment for some lung conditions.
Common reasons to perform a diagnostic bronchoscopy include:
- Investigating abnormal changes to the lung, changes or scarring of lung tissue, or a collapsed lung
- Lymph node biopsy
- Shortness of breath or low oxygen levels
- Persistent cough that has lasted more than 3 months without any clear cause
- Infection in the lungs and major airways (bronchi)
- Inhalation of a toxic gas or chemical
- To see if there is a foreign object in the airway
- To check for organ rejection after a lung transplant
A bronchoscopy may also be done to treat a lung or airway problem. Circumstances include:
- Removing fluid or mucus plugs from the airways
- Removing a foreign object from the airways
- Dilating an airway that is blocked or narrowed
- Draining an abscess
- Treating cancer using a number of different techniques
- Washing out an airway
How does it work?
A bronchoscope is a device used to see the inside of the airways and lungs. The scope can be flexible or rigid.
- Medication will be administered through an IV to help the patient relax. Alternatively, the patient may be placed under general anesthesia.
- The mouth and throat, or nose, are treated with an anesthetic.
- The bronchoscope is gently inserted.
- The physician may send saline solution through the scope to wash the lungs, collect samples of lung cells, fluids, microbes, etc. This is known as a lavage.
- A biopsy may be taken.
- The physician may also place a stent in the patient’s airway or view the lungs with an ultrasound. Ultrasound may also be used to see the lymph nodes and tissue around the airways.
- At the end of the procedure, the scope is removed.