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The bronchoscopy is a diagnostic test that allows visualization of the airways; Larger larynx, trachea and bronchi, as well as collecting samples or treating various conditions. It is very useful in the diagnosis of certain obstructions or tumors that affect the trachea or bronchi.

What is it?

Bronchoscopy, also called fiberoptic bronchoscopy in the medical field, is a test that is used both for diagnosis for the treatment of different conditions of the respiratory system and lungs. It allows complete visualization of the interior of the airways in real time on a monitor.

The test is performed using an instrument called a bronchoscope , which incorporates a video camera at one end. There are two types of bronchoscope, flexible and rigid, the first being the most widely used; a thin, flexible tube that is inserted through the nose to view the patient’s airway.

Beyond diagnosing certain diseases, this medical test can also serve as a treatment for some conditions. The bronchoscope has a series of channels inside, in which different instruments can be inserted to cauterize blood vessels, take tissue samples to perform a biopsy, remove polyps …

There are a number of population groups for whom a bronchoscopy should not be performed: patients with hypotension, arrhythmias or any type of disease related to the respiratory system who cannot tolerate this test. In the case of pregnant women, it is not recommended to do it either.

Causes to perform a bronchoscopy

The reasons for requesting this test are very broad, the following being the most frequent.

  • Bronchoscopy can be performed to determine the cause of certain symptoms such as chronic cough or even a cough accompanied by blood, as well as difficulty breathing when making a small physical effort.
  • As we have pointed out, this medical test can be used for both diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, it may be requested to take a tissue sample from the airways as a biopsy to analyze a possible infection or any type of disease affecting the lungs.
  • Bronchoscopy is also used for the diagnosis of lung cancer , as well as to evaluate the extent of it.
  • Through the bronchoscope, the doctor can remove different foreign bodies that are in the airways.

How it is performed?

Bronchoscopy is a relatively simple test, which is performed on an outpatient basis and lasts for about half an hour; If it is necessary to take a tissue sample or treat any type of anomaly, this time can be lengthened.

Patients are given a sedative so that they are calmer during the bronchoscopy. Therefore, it is best to go accompanied.

Regarding the preparation, you should not eat food or drink any type of drink during the ten hours prior to the start of the test . In addition, if patients are taking some type of anti-inflammatory, it is important to communicate this condition to the doctor since it is generally recommended to stop taking it two weeks prior to the bronchoscopy.

A good recommendation is to urinate before the test, since you cannot go to the bathroom during the test.


The bronchoscopy is performed by a doctor specialized in pulmonology and a nurse. Patients must remain seated in a chair very similar to that of dentists.

First, an IV is taken in the arm to administer a sedative; in this way, patients are much calmer during the procedure. An anesthetic spray is then applied to their nose and throat to make it easier to insert the bronchoscope.

In addition, electrodes are attached to monitor your heart rate, as well as the amount of oxygen in your blood during the test.

The doctor proceeds to introduce the bronchoscope through the nose, and reaches the vocal cords . Once there, the doctor asks the patients to take a strong breath to facilitate their gliding into the airways, so that they can visualize the trachea and bronchi.

If the doctor detects any type of anomaly, he can insert different instruments into the channels of the bronchoscope, such as micro forceps or micro scissors, among many others.

Once the diagnosis and / or treatment has been completed, the bronchoscope is carefully removed. The patients then remain for two to three hours under observation, until they recover from the effect of the sedative.

After the bronchoscopy, there are a series of precautions to consider: do not consume any type of food or drink until the effect of the anesthesia has completely worn off, do not drive or operate heavy machinery for 12 hours afterwards, and do not smoke until at least after 24 hours.

Bronchoscopy is not a painful test, but in some cases it can be somewhat uncomfortable. Some patients feel chest pressure or feel nauseous when the bronchoscope is inside their airways . These are not blocked at any time, but in any case doctors and patients usually agree on a signal to be carried out in case of emergency.

Procedures performed with bronchoscopy

There are a number of procedures that can be performed using this test.

  • Bronchial biopsy: Using bronchoscopy, the doctor collects a tissue sample from the bronchial wall with a forceps to analyze it.
  • Transbronchial puncture: through an instrument attached to one of the channels of the bronchoscope, formations near the bronchi or trachea are punctured.
  • Bronchial aspirate : certain secretions located in the bronchus are aspirated to look for germs, such as tuberculosis .

Are there complications?

Bronchoscopy is a very safe medical test, so side effects after its performance are rarely seen; in the vast majority of cases, these occur as a result of sedation.

After the test, some patients experience certain discomfort in the throat, which can be easily soothed by gargling with warm salt water.

Serious complications from this test are very rare. In very few cases, cardiac arrhythmias or pneumothorax occur ; This second condition occurs when the bronchoscope pierces the lung, causing air to enter it and causing a collapse.


A few days after performing the bronchoscopy, patients come to collect the results; usually, the doctor gives patients a written report along with several photos.

If the result is completely normal, it means that no abnormality has been found in the airways.

If the report of the results of the bronchoscopy indicates the finding of polyps, ulcers or tumors , the doctor will inform of the need to carry out additional tests. In the event that a biopsy has been taken, the sample must be studied in the laboratory by a pathologist


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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