Bronchoscopy is a visual examination of the larynx and airways through use of a bronchoscope, a thin flexible tube with a tiny camera attached at the end. The bronchoscope is inserted through the nostril or mouth and down into the airways. This allows for an examination of the larger airways (bronchi) into the lungs.
The procedure can be used to investigate bleeding in the lungs, examine for lung cancer, collect organisms causing pneumonia, and assess for burns and smoke injury of the larynx and airways. A bronchoscope can also be used to remove secretions, blood, pus, and foreign bodies, to place drugs in the lung, and to guide the insertion of an assisted breathing tube. Eating and drinking should cease 6 hours before to the procedure. Prior to a bronchoscopy, the patient will be sedated and the throat and nasal passage will be sprayed with anesthetic. The procedure itself typically lasts 20-30 minutes.