What is a flexible bronchoscopy?
A flexible bronchoscopy is a procedure to look inside your respiratory system. Healthcare providers use a bronchoscope, which is a soft, bendable tube with a light and tiny camera on the end. Pictures of your respiratory system appear on a monitor during the procedure.
Why do I need a flexible bronchoscopy?
- A flexible bronchoscopy may help diagnose lung diseases, inflammation, cancer, or infections. You may need this procedure because you have blood in your spit, trouble breathing, or a severe cough. A biopsy may be done during a flexible bronchoscopy. This is when a small tissue sample is removed and sent to a lab for tests. You may also need lavage during this procedure. This is when a small amount of saline is used to wash parts of your airway and lungs. The cells that are rinsed off are collected and sent to a lab for tests.
- A flexible bronchoscopy may help treat different conditions. For example, your healthcare provider may remove a foreign object or tumor that is blocking your airway. He may also insert tools, such as a laser, probe, needle, or suction device, through the bronchoscope. These are used to heat or freeze tissues or suction out mucus plugs or blood clots. They may also be used to stop bleeding or to place a stent (tube) or balloon to widen your airway.
What happens during a flexible bronchoscopy?
Your healthcare provider will give you medicine to numb your throat, help you relax, or stop coughing or gagging. He will place a mouthguard to help protect your teeth. Your healthcare provider will gently pass the scope through your nose or mouth and into your airway. He will examine each part that the scope passes, such as your trachea. He may take pictures of the inside of your airway. He may also take samples or remove tissues that may be causing your symptoms. Your healthcare provider will gently remove the scope when the procedure is finished.
What are the risks of a flexible bronchoscopy?
You may bleed or have pain as the scope is inserted. Your heartbeat may slow down and your blood pressure may decrease. This can cause you to sweat and faint. The scope may puncture (make a hole) or perforate (tear) your airway. You may get an infection after the procedure. The space between your lungs and chest may fill with air or blood. These problems can be life-threatening. Without this procedure, your signs and symptoms may get worse. You may have a condition that is not diagnosed or treated properly. This can be life-threatening.
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