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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bronchoscopy Q&As

What is a bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy is an examination where doctors pass a thin, flexible tube, called a bronchoscope, down your throat and into the main airways (bronchi) of the lungs. With the bronchoscope your doctors are able to do the following things:

  • look at the lining of the air passages leading into the lungs
  • take photographs of what they see
  • take 'brushings' or 'washings' of the surface of any suspicious looking area so that the cells can be looked at under the microscope (this is called a cytological test)
  • take a small piece of tissue from any suspicious area so that it can be examined under the microscope (this is called a biopsy).

Lung cancers most often arise from the surface of the lining of the bronchi and so a bronchoscopy often confirms the diagnosis of lung cancer. Sometimes if a growth is deep inside the lung then a bronchoscopy may fail to detect it.

Before your bronchoscopy you will be asked not to eat or drink anything for a few hours. Just before the test you may be given a mild sedative, to help you relax and relieve any discomfort, and another medicine which reduces secretions. This medicine can make your mouth feel rather dry. Once you are comfortable a local anaesthetic will be sprayed onto the back of your throat. The bronchoscope is then gently passed through your nose or mouth and into the lung airways.

The test may be slightly uncomfortable but it only takes a few minutes. You shouldn't eat or drink for at least an hour afterwards because your throat will be numb and you wouldn't know if food and drink went down the wrong way. As soon as the sedation has worn off you will be able to go home. You should not drive for 24 hours after the test and should arrange for someone to collect you from hospital (as you may feel sleepy and have difficulty getting home). You may have a sore throat for a couple of days after your test but this will soon disappear.

Occasionally doctors feel it is necessary to use a rigid bronchoscope rather than the flexible bronchoscope. If this happens, a general anaesthetic is given, and you may have to stay in hospital overnight.

Via: http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk

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