Bronchoscopy is a technique of visualizing the human airways using an endoscope called bronchoscope. It is a thin tubular instrument that can be flexible or rigid (metallic) fixed with a video camera at one end and viewer at the other. Flexible bronchoscope is more common than rigid type as there is no need to give anesthesia and can be performed easily as an outdoor or daycare procedure in the Bronchoscopy suite or even bedside of the patient. videobronchoscope is an advanced equipment which replaces the flexible bronchoscope. It has a charged couple device at its tip which captures images and relays to a video-processor unit which then displays the images on a monitor. The images, thus produced are magnified and much sharper. Multiple images can be examined together, video recordings performed and shared with the patients.
The airways are like hollow tubes starting with one large sized which then divides into multiple smaller ones. The windpipe (trachea) is the main and the largest. It divides into right and left bronchi, each of which then divides into lobar followed by segmental and sub-segmental bronchi. Bronchoscope is introduced through the nose or mouth, passed through the throat (pharynx), vocal cords (larynx) to enter the windpipe (trachea). It is then passed into the right or left bronchi, the lobar bronchi and then the segmental bronchi. Through the bronchoscope the physician is able to visualize the abnormality in the airways such as inflammation, tumors, bleeding and for taking tissue samples or mucus, if any, and perform various procedures which help in making the accurate diagnosis and guide appropriate treatment.
The entire procedure usually takes no longer than 5-7 minutes however the various procedures, if carried, out may require additional time.