Bronchoscopy is an especially useful medical test for diagnosing lung disease, or looking at the airways. Find out what it is for and why it is done.

Bronchoscopy consists of a diagnostic medical test that is also known by the name of fiber optic bronchoscopy, which offers the specialist the possibility of visualizing the airway and observing both the larynx and the trachea until reaching the largest bronchi, in addition to collecting samples of bronchial or pulmonary tissue, respiratory secretions and tissue belonging to the mediastina nodes.

This diagnostic test is performed using the bronchoscope, a tube that has a video camera at its end, and that allows the inside of the airways to be observed and viewed on a monitor. In addition, it has different channels inside through which the medical specialist can insert various instruments, especially to take tissue samples (for example, to perform biopsies).

Did you know that there are two types of bronchoscopes? On the one hand, we find the flexible bronchoscope, the most frequently used as it allows the test to be carried out in a more comfortable way for the patient, only requiring local anesthesia that is applied to the area of ​​the nostrils and the pharynx. It is inserted through the patient’s nose.

There is also the rigid bronchoscope, which can only be inserted through the mouth and cannot go as far as the flexible bronchoscope. In fact, to perform it, the patient must be under general anesthesia.

What does bronchoscopy consist of? What is it?

As we indicated, bronchoscopy is an especially useful medical test for diagnosing -and treating- different diseases that affect both the respiratory tract and the  lungs. To do this, the bronchoscope is used, a tube of variable size (depending on the patient’s age) that can be flexible or rigid.

Through the use of the bronchoscope, the doctor can visualize the larynx, trachea and the larger bronchi, in addition to offering the possibility of collecting different samples, either respiratory secretions, or lung or bronchial tissue.

There are different reasons why the pulmonologist may request a bronchoscopy. The most common is the identification of different germs ‘culprit’ of certain lung infections, as occurs with pneumonia or tuberculosis, taking samples or biopsies of the respiratory tract or lung.  In this sense, it is equally useful for taking samples and studying the possible existence of a tumor or other lung disease.

It is also useful in identifying the cause of some respiratory symptoms, such as difficulty breathing normally, chronic cough, or coughing up blood.

But it is also useful for applying various medical treatments: extracting foreign bodies, aspirating secretions that prevent normal breathing, treating hemorrhages that occur in the respiratory tract, dilating areas of the respiratory tract, or treating lung cancer using radioactive substances or the To be.

How it is performed?

To carry out this diagnostic test, the patient is usually administered a useful medication to relax the patient, since deep and calm breathing is essential for the proper performance of the test, in this way the person will be drowsy and relaxed.

Then an anesthetic solution is instilled or administered in the nose and throat, to reduce any discomfort that may be felt and also facilitate the introduction of the bronchoscope. It is possible that at the moment of administering this substance you have a sensation of bad taste, a sensation of numbness in the throat and cough.

Once the bronchoscope is inserted, it is advanced through the pharynx until reaching the larynx, the vocal cords, the trachea and finally the bronchi. The most common is that local anesthesia is placed from the most external areas to reach the deepest.

It is advisable not to eat or drink anything until the effect of the anesthesia wears off, in addition to spitting out the saliva and not swallowing it.


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