A bronchoscopy is a procedure which a soft, narrow tube is inserted through the nose or mouth to inspect directly inside the airways of the lungs for any disease. It is usually done using mild sedation. Sometimes, a deeper sedation with propofol is administered by the anaesthetist.
A bronchoscopy is performed to evaluate symptoms pertaining to the lung like coughing of blood, chronic cough or when lung disease like tuberculosis, inflammation or lung cancer is suspected.
If there are areas that are abnormal like a tumour mass in the airways, a biopsy or lavage (the collection of your secretions) can be done to make a diagnosis.
A consent form is required from the patient. If you are on any blood-thinning medications, such as aspirin or warfarin, it should be ceased for a period of time before the test. In addition, you will be asked to fast for 6 hours before the bronchoscopy.
At the beginning of the procedure, a local anaesthetic to numb the throat and nose, and a medication for sleeping will be given. The duration of the bronchoscopy can last from 10 minutes (if it is a simple inspection) to 45 minutes (if involves biopsy of abnormal mass in the airway). Throughout the procedure, vital signs including blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation level will be continuously monitored by the nurse assisting the respiratory physician.
After the bronchoscopy, the patient will be monitored for 3 hours in the recovery area in the hospital. He may cough more, cough out some blood or have a fever post procedure on day one. After the patient is fully awake, he will be allowed to drink and eat. If he is well, he will be allowed to go home. The respiratory physician will see the patient for review when all the bronchoscopy results are available a few days later.
A bronchoscopy is usually very safe. Occasionally, the complications may occur as follow: