The pulmonologists at O2 Pulmonary & Sleep Group perform navigational bronchoscopy, a procedure that allows these lung doctors to look inside your airway and lungs. Clinicians rely on information gained from this test to diagnose lung disease. This procedure is also helpful during the treatment of some lung problems.
Doctors normally use this procedure to find the cause of a lung problem. Our pulmonary specialist may take mucus or tissue specimens to test in a laboratory. The test can detect a tumor, signs of infection, a source of bleeding, excess mucus, or food or other obstructions blocking your airway.
A doctor may recommend the procedure if you have an abnormal chest X-ray or CT scan showing a mass, collapsed lung or infection. The test is also helpful if you have been coughing for more than a few weeks or if you have been coughing up blood. Our pulmonologists can use the test to check for swelling in the upper airway and vocal cords if you have sustained burns around the throat area or inhaled smoke from a fire.
About the Navigational Bronchoscopy Procedure
Our pulmonologists use a bronchoscope, a tube that measures less than one-half inch wide and about two feet long, to perform bronchoscopies. The scope may be rigid, although it is more common to use a flexible bronchoscope. You will probably be awake but sedated with intravenous (IV) medication if your doctor uses a flexible scope.
The lung specialist inserts the bronchoscope into your nose or mouth, through your windpipe and into your lungs. Going through your nose is helpful when our pulmonologist needs to look at your upper airway, but entering through your mouth allows our practitioner to use a larger scope. Our doctor will place an anesthetic into your nostril or spray it into your mouth and throat to numb the point of insertion. This numbing agent will reduce coughing as the doctor inserts the scope.
During the procedure, our doctor may send a saline solution through the catheter tube to wash the lung. Introducing the solution, a procedure known as lavage, also allows the pulmonologist to collect samples of lung cells, fluids and other materials from the lung sacs. The clinician may administer medicine through the scope or pass tiny brushes, forceps or needles through the bronchoscope to take samples, known as a biopsy, from your lungs.
Our lung doctors can use a bronchoscope and ultrasound technology to place a tiny stent tube that holds part of your lung open when a tumor or other condition blocks your airway. A doctor can also use the procedure to remove an object stuck in the airway. Ultrasound and a bronchoscope may help our pulmonary specialists examine lymph nodes and other tissues around your airways.
Bronchoscopies are generally safe procedures. You may be hoarse and have a sore throat after the procedure but these effects usually wear off quickly. There is a slight risk for minor bleeding, or developing pneumonia or a fever. Collapsed lung, also known as pneumothorax, is a rare but treatable complication.