Glossary: Bronchoscopy

Here are definitions of medical terms related to bronchoscopy.

biopsy: A procedure to remove a small piece of tissue from part of the body for examination under a microscope. “Biopsy” can also mean the tissue sample itself.

bronchial tubes, bronchi: The tubes that carry air from the throat (trachea) into the lungs. The larger bronchial tubes branch into smaller bronchioles that reach the air sacs (alveoli). All the bronchi together are sometimes called the “bronchial tree.”

bronchiectasis: Damaged, stretched bronchial walls. It can be a congenital condition (one you’re born with), but it usually results from infection, a tumor, or inhaling a foreign object.

bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL): A procedure that uses the bronchoscope to send water (sterile saline solution) into the bronchioles and air sacs. The bronchoscope then sucks the water back out. Doctors can examine cells and mucus removed this way to diagnose diseases. Sometimes BAL is used to clear extra mucus or other secretions from the lungs.

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Breathlessness that gets continually worse over time. The term includes chronic breathing problems from several different causes, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, or chronic bronchiectasis. COPD cannot be cured.

dyspnea: Breathlessness, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing.

Fiberoptics: Glass or plastic fibers that transmit light and images. Fiberoptics are used in bronchoscopes, laparoscopes, endoscopes, and similar medical tools.

hemoptysis: Coughing up blood from the lungs or airways.

pleura: The lining around the lungs.

pneumothorax: Air in the space around the lung that causes the lung to collapse.

tuberculosis: A disease caused by infection with bacteria that can affect almost any tissue or organ of the body, the most common location being the lungs.

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