What is a bronchoscopy procedure?

by Dr. Pavan Yadav

Bronchoscopy is a medical procedure that allows direct visualisation and examination of the airways within the lungs. It involves using a thin, flexible tube called a bronchoscope, which is inserted through the nose or mouth and guided into the lungs. The bronchoscope has a light and a camera that provides real-time images of the airways, allowing the pulmonologist to evaluate and diagnose various lung conditions.

Why is a Bronchoscopy performed?

Bronchoscopy is performed for several reasons, including:

Diagnosis: It helps in diagnosing lung conditions such as lung cancer, infections, pulmonary fibrosis, or tumors.
Evaluation of airway abnormalities: It allows examination of the airways for any structural abnormalities, such as strictures, foreign bodies, or tumors.
Biopsy: Bronchoscopy enables the collection of tissue samples (biopsies) from the lungs for further examination and analysis.
Treatment: It can be used for therapeutic purposes, such as removing foreign bodies, placing stents, or controlling bleeding in the airways.

How is a Bronchoscopy procedure performed?

Bronchoscopy can be performed using two main approaches:

Flexible bronchoscopy:

This is the most common type of bronchoscopy. It involves the use of a flexible bronchoscope, which can navigate the airways more easily. The patient is typically sedated and a local anaesthetic is applied to the nose and throat to minimise discomfort. The bronchoscope is then inserted through the nose or mouth, and the pulmonologist advances it into the trachea and bronchi, examining the airways and taking necessary samples or performing interventions as required.

Rigid bronchoscopy:

In certain cases, a rigid bronchoscope, which is a straight metal tube, may be used. This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia in an operating room. It allows better access to the larger airways and may be necessary for more complex interventions or the removal of larger foreign bodies.