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Bronchoscopy is an endoscopic test which uses a fibre-optic intrument called a bronchoscope, to look inside the tubes of the lungs – the bronchi. The instrument is thin and flexible, and can be manoeuvred through the branching system of bronchi by a highly trained expert, usually a Respiratory Physician. This procedure would be impossible to tolerate without sedation; subjects are usually heavily sedated or anaesthetised. The procedure is usually performed in an operating theatre or dedicated bronchoscopy facility, as a day procedure, where patients are allowed home after they have recovered fully from the effects of their anaesthetic.
Bronchoscopy may be requested to investigate an abnormality on a Chest X-Ray or CT scan of the chest, to look for an inhaled foreign body (such as a peanut in a young child), or to investigate bleeding from the airways or lungs (coughing up blood is known as haemoptysis).
Bronchoscopy results will usually give a visual description of any abnormalities encountered in the bronchi. If tissue biopsies are taken, the results of these may take a couple of weeks or more.
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