Bronchoscopy

Bronchoscopy

  • Lungs and bronchial tree

Definition

A bronchoscopy is an examination done with a thin, flexible fiberoptic tube called a bronchoscope. The tube is inserted through the nose or mouth into the lung. A small tissue sample, known as a biopsy, can be removed for study in the laboratory.

Who is a candidate for the test?

This test is performed when lung disease, infection, tumor, or obstruction are suspected.

How is the test performed?

With the person relaxed and lying down on a table or bed, a local anesthetic is sprayed into the throat and a mild sedative is given. When the throat is numb, the bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth into the bronchi, or large airways in the lungs. The fluid is then removed and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Respiratory tissues can then be observed and biopsied.

What is involved in preparation for the test?

Specific instructions will be provided by the healthcare professional.

What do the test results mean?

The test is normal if the trachea and bronchi look normal, and no obstructions or foreign bodies are detected.
Abnormal results may include:
  • an abnormality in the bronchial wall.
  • inflammation.
  • swelling.
  • sores, or ulceration.
  • a non-malignant tumor.
  • enlarged glands or lymph nodes.
  • narrowing or compression of the windpipe.
  • dilated blood vessels.
  • irregular bronchial branching. The bronchi normally branch from the windpipe into both lungs.
  • bleeding, or hemorrhage.
  • lung or bronchial cancer
  • a cancer that has spread to the lung from elsewhere in the body.

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