Putting It All Together: Bronchoscopy

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to bronchoscopy.

  • Bronchoscopy lets the doctor see inside your airways, using a thin tube called a bronchoscope. The tube uses fiberoptics or a tiny video camera to produce images of the airways.
  • Doctors perform bronchoscopies to help diagnose diseases or remove something blocking the airways. If you have been coughing up blood, bronchoscopy can show where it is coming from.
  • Sometimes a doctor uses the bronchoscope to take a little piece of tissue (a biopsy) from your airways. Looking at that tissue under a microscope can help diagnose the cause of your breathing problem.
  • Bronchoscopy is usually an outpatient procedure and is considered very safe.
  • Someone having a bronchoscopy should not eat or drink anything for at least eight hours before the procedure.
  • The procedure itself only takes about 20 minutes, but plan to be at outpatient surgery center or hospital for three or four hours.
  • Most people feel fine after this procedure. Some people are hoarse, have a mild fever, or cough up small spots of blood afterward.
  • If you cough up a lot of blood, have a high fever, or have trouble breathing after a bronchoscopy, call your doctor right away.

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