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What Is Bronchoscopy And When Is It Done?

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Piyush Goel 91% (26 ratings)
MBBS, MD - Pulmonary Medicine, FNB-Critical Care Medicine
Pulmonologist, Gurgaon  •  17 years experience
What Is Bronchoscopy And When Is It Done?

A bronchoscope is a tool that allows the doctor to examine the airways and lungs of a person to determine whether there is any abnormality like bleeding, tumors, inflammation and foreign bodies. Bronchoscopy is a process used for diagnosing the problems in the lungs, airways and lymph nodes present in the chest and for treating problems in the airways.

The instrument is typically used for detecting any abnormality in the airway by obtaining samples of the abnormality in infections which are not yet diagnosed. It can also be used for obtaining tissue specimens in the lungs and evaluating the health condition of a person who has bleeding lungs, possible lung cancer, chronic cough or collapse in the lungs.

Bronchoscopy is also used for treating postoperative leaks in the lungs, opening up the spaces of the airway that are blocked, treating emphysema and asthma.

What are the two types of bronchoscopy?

There are two types of bronchoscopes, rigid and flexible and each variant has its particular usage. The rigid bronchoscopy is a hollow and straight tube made of metal. It is used less often these days, but it remains the most preferred choice when it comes to removal of foreign material and other treatments. Rigid bronchoscopy is also done when bleeding interferes with visualizing the area correctly. It can be done for performing specialized procedures like dilating and widening of the airway and using a laser for destroying objects.

On the other hand, flexible bronchoscopy is a long and thin tube containing small and transparent fibers which can transmit light images with the bending of the tube. The flexibility of this tube allows the instrument to reach further and inaccessible areas in the airways. This process can be performed safely and effortlessly under local anesthesia.

Bronchoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure which allows the doctor to look at the airway through a thin instrument for viewing. Your doctor would discuss the results of the treatment with you. The results are considered normal if by using the large tubes that lead to the lungs as well as the breathing tubes no signs of weariness or abnormal growth is detected. On the other hand, the result of bronchoscopy is considered abnormal when there is any object or thick secretion in the airways or if the tissue samples show infection in the lungs or disease like tuberculosis or lung cancer.

If you have a condition that may limit your ability to extend the neck or have a biopsy sample which is too small for diagnosis, then you may not be considered a suitable candidate for bronchoscopy. You doctor will be the best person to advise in this regard.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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