Bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows a healthcare provider to examine the airways in the lungs directly using a thin, lighted tube known as a bronchoscope. The bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth, moved down the throat and windpipe (trachea), and into the airways. This procedure enables the healthcare provider to view the voice box (larynx), trachea, large airways to the lungs (bronchi), and smaller branches of the bronchi (bronchioles).
There are two types of bronchoscopes: flexible and rigid.
The rigid bronchoscope is used by a thoracic surgeon and is a straight tube used only to view the larger airways and perform specific procedures within the bronchi, such as removing large amounts of secretions or blood, controlling bleeding, removing foreign objects, removing diseased tissue (lesions), and performing procedures like stent placements and other treatments.
The flexible bronchoscope, which is used most often by pulmonary specialists, can be moved down into the smaller airways. It may be used to place a breathing tube in the airway to help provide oxygen, suction out secretions, take fluid and tissue samples (biopsy), or administer medication into the lungs.
Bronchoscopy may be performed to diagnose and treat various lung problems, including tumors or bronchial cancer, airway blockage (obstruction), narrowed areas in airways (strictures), inflammation, and various infections.
Watch the video below to learn about what to expect before, during, and after a bronchoscopy, as well as any potential risks involved.