New Hyde Park, New York 11040
Bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows the doctor to directly visualize the interior passageways of the lower respiratory tract through a bronchoscope (a long, narrow, fiberoptic, lighted tube inserted through the nose or mouth). With the bronchoscope, the doctor can see the larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), bronchi (large airways to the lungs), and bronchioles (smaller branches of the bronchi).
There are two types of bronchoscopies, characterized by the type of bronchoscope used: flexible or rigid. The type of bronchoscope used will determine the extent to which the bronchioles of the lung are visualized.
With a flexible bronchoscope, the doctor is able to visualize not only the tissue of the larger airways (trachea and bronchi), but also that of the smaller sections (bronchioles) as well. The design of the flexible bronchoscope is advantageous because it can be maneuvered into the smaller bronchioles, yielding more information about their condition than can be determined with a rigid bronchoscope.
In addition, the flexible, fiberoptic bronchoscope has interior channels which increase the capabilities of treatment options, such as delivering oxygen, suctioning secretions, obtaining tissue samples (biopsy), instilling medications, and laser therapy.
A rigid bronchoscope is a straight, metal, lighted tube capable of visualizing only the larger airways, thus limiting the diagnostic and therapeutic options available. However, certain conditions may warrant its use, such as aspiration, or removal, of a large amount of secretions and/or blood, controlling significant bleeding, or removal of foreign objects and/or lesions (diseased tissue) within the bronchi.