Bronchoscope is an instrument which can be passed into the air passages through a nostril and it takes the form of a flexible thin tube with a light source and a fiber optic camera at the end. In certain instances, there will be a need to insert a wider and a more rigid bronchoscope for various reasons and in such instances the tube will be passed in to the throat via the mouth. When the flexible bronchoscope is used the patient can be sedated or given drugs to induce sleep during the procedure whereas the latter method would require the patient to be on general anesthesia.
What is bronchosopy?
Bronchoscopy is the procedure which is undertaken by an expert clinician in visualizing the air passages from throat downwards in to the lungs using the above described bronchoscope. It can be performed in people of any age group including children and is considered to be a safe procedure with minimum side effects. But, it should be remembered that, passing through the bronchoscope can give rise to minor bleeding, injury to the lung tissues, collection of air around the lungs, collapse of the lungs…etc although the incidence of these manifestations are rather low.
What are the indications to perform a bronchoscopy?
This procedure can be performed both as a diagnostic and as a therapeutic procedure. In most instances, the suggestion to perform a bronchoscopy would be derived from the fact that, investigations such as chest x-ray and CT chest reveals something abnormal which is inconclusive to the clinicians.
At the same time, it may also be performed in patient who complains of blood stained sputum, a prolonged cough lasting for many weeks, probable infection with respiratory signs…etc.
In children, one of the commonest indications to perform bronchoscopy would be when injuries are suspected to the throat or to the upper airways after being exposed to smoke or suffers from burn injuries. At the same time, a suspicion of inhaled foreign bodies is another indication to perform the same which can be seen in clinical practice rather often among children as well as among the elderly.
When certain infections, inflammatory conditions and tumors of the lungs and airways are suspected, brochoscopy would be recommended to obtain a biopsy of the tissues and this can be a diagnostic procedure for many such conditions.
Furthermore, it can be used as a channel to introduce medicines directly to the lungs as well.
Apart from these indications, there can be other instances in which a bronchoscopy may be performed and the decision to do this will be made by the clinicians based on the available facts, the patients condition as well as the facilities available in those units to undertake such procedures.