What is it?
Bronchoscopy is a medical procedure which allows a long thin tube to be passed into your airway - this is called the bronchoscope (see figure above.
There are two types of bronchoscopy, rigid and flexible. A rigid bronchoscopy is used less these days essentially due to it’s limitations of only being able to visualize the upper airways. The flexible bronchoscope causes less trauma, is more versatile, and comfortable for the patient.
Why is it done?
Bronchoscopy allows for assessment and evaluation of the upper airway structures. It is used to diagnose;
- Bleeding in the airway
- Identify abnormalities
- To obtain samples of tissue and any abnormalities
- To remove foreign objects lodged in the airway
Images found at WebMD
What happens in intensive care?
The bronchoscopy will be explained to the patient and the family with rationales for the procedure. In intensive care you will be given sedation and pain relief during the procedure so you will be asleep and not feel any pain. In intensive care this procedure is usually done on patients who already have a breathing tube (endotracheal tube) in place, which the mechanical ventilator is attached to, supporting your breathing. The bronchoscopy is passed into the tube, and then into the airway. We will continue to monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturations during the whole procedure. Once the bronchoscope is inserted each part of your airway will be examined, looking for any abnormalities. If anything abnormal is discovered, they may take a tissue sample using a brush, needle or forceps. This will be sent to the laboratory for diagnosis.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the ICU nurses and doctors
Belli MA. Critical care extra. Bronchoscopy. American Journal of Nursing. 1999 Jul; 99(7)
The information contained on this page is general in nature and therefore cannot reflect individual patient variation. In addition it reflects Australian intensive care practice which may differ from other countries. It is meant as a back up to specific information which will be discussed with you by the Doctors and Nurses caring for your loved one. ICCMU attests to the accuracy of the information contained here BUT takes no responsibility for how it may apply to an individual patient. Please refer to the full disclaimer.
Bronchoscopy Version 1 (Author: Suzy Dimovski, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, NSW, Australia)
First published August 2008
Correspondence: ICCMU CNC