Bronchoscopy: What you need to know

What is a bronchoscopy? 

Bronchoscopy is a medical procedure that enables doctors to view the airways and diagnose lung diseases. Using a bronchoscope, a thin, flexible tube equipped with a light and camera, the doctor can look inside the lungs and air passages to detect any abnormalities. 

Why is a bronchoscopy performed? 

Doctors may recommend a bronchoscopy for several reasons, including: 

  • Investigating lung problems: To find the cause of persistent coughs, infections or other lung issues. 
  • Diagnosing diseases: To detect lung diseases such as cancer, infections or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Removing obstructions: To clear mucus plugs, foreign objects or tumors blocking the airways. 
  • Taking biopsies: To collect tissue samples for further testing. 

How is the procedure done? 

Before the procedure, patients might need to: 

  • Avoid eating or drinking for several hours. 
  • Inform the doctor about any medications, allergies or medical conditions. 
  • Arrange for someone to drive them home, as they might be sedated. 

During the procedure: 

  • Patients are usually given a sedative to help them relax. Local anesthesia is sprayed into the throat to numb it. 
  • The bronchoscope is gently inserted through the nose or mouth and into the airways. 
  • The doctor examines the airways and may take tissue samples, remove blockages or administer treatments. 

After the procedure: 

  • Patients are monitored as the sedation wears off. 
  • They may experience a sore throat, hoarseness or a mild cough. 
  • It’s important to follow the doctor’s instructions on rest, eating and activity restrictions. 

Common questions about bronchoscopy

Is a bronchoscopy painful? 

The procedure is not painful due to sedation and local anesthesia. 

How long does the procedure take? 

A bronchoscopy is typically 30 to 60 minutes. However, the overall visit may be longer due to preparation and recovery time. 

Are there any risks? 

Bronchoscopy is generally safe, but like any medical procedure, it carries some risks, such as light bleeding or infection.

When can I resume normal activities? 

Most patients can resume normal activities within a day or two. However, it’s crucial to follow your doctor’s specific recommendations.

Schedule an appointment 

Bronchoscopy is a valuable diagnostic and therapeutic tool that helps doctors manage lung conditions effectively. By understanding what to expect, you can approach the procedure with confidence and ensure a smooth recovery. Always discuss concerns or questions with your healthcare provider to stay informed and prepared.