What is bronchoscopy?
Bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to see inside your lower respiratory tract through a bronchoscope (a long, narrow, fiberoptic, lighted tube inserted through your nose or mouth). It can be used to help diagnose lung cancer, as well as other conditions.
With a bronchoscope, your doctor can see your larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), bronchi (two main airways that branch off your trachea) and bronchioles (smaller branches of the bronchi).
What’s the difference between flexible and rigid bronchoscopy?
There are two types of bronchoscopes: flexible and rigid. Your doctor can maneuver a flexible bronchoscope to see not only your larger airways (trachea and bronchi) but also your smaller bronchioles. This way the doctor can get more information about your condition than with a rigid bronchoscope.
Also, flexible bronchoscopes have interior channels that your doctor can use in treatment, such as to deliver oxygen, suction secretions, obtain tissue samples (biopsies), give medications and perform laser therapy.
What is navigational bronchoscopy?
Navigational bronchoscopy gives your doctor access to distant parts of your lungs that they cannot reach with conventional bronchoscopy. For this procedure, your doctor uses a computed tomography (CT) scan of your chest to map the airways leading to the outer areas of your lung. Using the bronchoscope and an electromagnetic field around your chest, the doctor directs a catheter through the mapped airways. Then the doctor can pass tools through this catheter to take a sample of a pulmonary nodule or mass.