Bronchoscopy is a procedure used to diagnose severe lung diseases, such as those related to asbestos. A bronchoscope is a thin tube with a small camera and a light attached. Your doctor inserts it into your throat and down into the airways of your lungs. This allows the doctor to examine the anatomy of the lungs closely for any abnormalities that could be causing your symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, bronchoscopy can accomplish more than merely visualizing the airways. Special tools can attach to the bronchoscope that allow your doctor to control excess bleeding, if any is present, or to collect a tissue sample from the lungs for biopsy.
What happens during a bronchoscopy?
Your doctor may need you to respond to questions during a bronchoscopy, so you will not receive general anesthesia that makes you completely unconscious. You will, however, receive sedative medication to relax you and local anesthetic in your throat to control your gag reflex. Usually, your doctor uses a flexible bronchoscope unless special circumstances are present that require a rigid one.
The procedure may involve taking samples of fluid or tissue for testing. Your doctor will be able to see bronchoscopy images on a monitor. You should not feel any pain during the procedure, but if you do, you should inform your doctor immediately.
How do you prepare for bronchoscopy?
Due to a risk of bleeding, your doctor may ask to discontinue any anticoagulant medications, i.e., blood thinners, a few days before your scheduled procedure. To reduce the risk of aspiration, your doctor will probably prohibit you from eating or drinking anything for up to eight hours beforehand.
Prior to the procedure, you will have to disrobe, put on a hospital gown and remove any items such as glasses or contacts, hearing aids or dentures.