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Flexible bronchoscopy

What is it?

Flexible bronchoscopy is a procedure performed to directly visualise airways and allow specimens to be obtained if required.

Why is it done?

A bronchoscopy is performed to investigate diseases of the lung, common reasons include:

  • Abnormal chest x-rays
  • Haemoptysis (coughing up of blood)
  • Recurrent chest infections
  • Chronic cough
  • Tracheobronchomalacia (floppy airways)
  • Or your physician may refer you for another reason
Abnormal chest x-ray

It can be used to treat:

  • Inhaled foreign bodies
  • Retained pulmonary secretions
  • Alveolar proteinosis

Details of the procedure

  • Initially you will be sedated through an intravenous drip
  • After you are drowsy, a long, thin camera is passed into your airway through either your nose or mouth
  • Your airways will be examined and samples taken if necessary
  • A flexible bronchoscopy typically takes around 15-30 minutes
  • During the procedure, you will continue to breathe by yourself and after about 2 hours you should be awake enough to return home

How do I prepare for a flexible bronchoscopy?

  • Your doctor will inform you if you need to cease any medications before the procedure
  • You should have nothing to eat or drink for 4 hours prior to the bronchoscopy
  • As you will undergo sedation, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery for the remainder of the day