What is a bronchoscopy?
A bronchoscopy is a procedure used to diagnose upper respiratory conditions.
As you breathe, air travels down your throat and into your airway and lungs for oxygen to be extracted and absorbed into your blood. If you have a condition that keeps your respiratory system from functioning correctly, you might have a respiratory disease or another condition that keeps you from breathing easily.
In the states of New York and California, close to 13 million people have been diagnosed with lung disease.
There are numerous types of respiratory illnesses, so doctors need a method to help them diagnose what might be happening in your airways. A bronchoscopy is a procedure that helps them determine what problem you might have.
A bronchoscope is used to look into your lungs for lung and airway disorders. This procedure is called a bronchoscopy. A lung disorder is any condition that causes your lungs or airways not to function the way they should. The need to properly diagnose your illness gives your doctor a reason to perform the procedure.
Symptoms that might require a bronchoscopy
Some of the main symptoms that indicate you might have a lung disorder are:
If you experience any lung disorder symptoms, your doctor will use a bronchoscope to look inside your lungs and airways. This allows them to better diagnose what might be causing your condition.
Causes for using a bronchoscope
Many disorders and lung conditions can cause problems in your bronchial tubes, lungs, and bronchi. Some of the leading causes are of airway problems are:
- Tuberculosis or pneumonia
- Fungal or parasitic infections in the lungs
- Vocal cord paralysis
- An obstruction in the airway
- A narrowed airway
- Bronchial tube inflammation
- Scarring in the bronchial tubes
- Air pollution
Who might get a bronchoscopy?
Since there are many causes of lung disease, doctors have identified several key factors to the risk of developing a lung disorder.
Smokers, people that live in an area with more air pollution, people with asthma, and people over the age of 50 are all more likely to develop a condition in their lungs. If you have severe allergies or work around chemicals that can be breathed in, you might be at a higher risk of developing a lung condition.
Diagnosis using a bronchoscopy
Doctors use bronchoscopy to diagnose lung disorders. A flexible or rigid tube is inserted through your nose or mouth and guided down into your bronchial tubes and lungs. There is a camera attached to the tube and surgical devices used to remove obstructions or growths.
Once the doctor gets the tube inside your airways, they’ll look for any of the signs of lung disorders.
Treatments after a bronchoscopy
The treatment you receive depends upon the condition that the doctor diagnoses. The bronchoscope can be used in the following treatments:
- Controlling bleeding in the bronchi
- Providing radiation treatment for tumors
- Placing an airway stent
- Conducting a test known as a bronchoalveolar lavage
- Draining pus from an abscess
If you have asthma or chronic inflammatory pulmonary disorder (COPD), your doctor can prescribe bronchodilator medicines such as albuterol to open up the airways in the short-term. If you need longer-term relief, they might give you a longer-lasting bronchodilator such as Aclidinium.
COPD is a condition that might need a medication called Roflumilast that works to reduce airway inflammation and relax the muscles that control the airways.
Doctors treat airway inflammation with inhaled steroid medications or medicines that combine steroids and bronchodilators.
Fungal lung infections can be treated with antifungal medications. Doctors treat viral lung infections with antibiotics and neuraminidase inhibitors, which prevent the spread of the virus.
It isn’t always possible to keep from contracting or developing lung disease or conditions. There aren’t any home treatments for respiratory infections and other respiratory disorders. You need to visit your healthcare provider in order to receive a diagnosis and a treatment that you can take home with you.
Quitting smoking or reducing your exposure to secondhand smoke can help prevent recurring lung conditions. If you have allergies, talk to your doctor about preventing and treating allergic reactions at home.
Bronchoscopes have tools that doctors can use to perform small surgical procedures, such as tissue removal for a biopsy. If necessary, doctors can take sputum samples, remove any mucus buildup or growths, or remove any objects that might be lodged in your respiratory system.
Risks and complications from a bronchoscopy
If your doctor is considering a bronchoscopy, it’s essential to understand the risks that come along with the procedure. There is a possibility that you might develop:
- An infection
- A puncture in the airway
- Irritation in the lung or airways
- A collapsed lung
Your doctor can talk to you about the risks, the actions they take to avoid them, and how they deal with them if any of them happen.