What is a Bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure in Singapore that allows your respiratory specialist to observe the insides of your respiratory tract. Bronchoscopies are often used in the diagnosis of various respiratory conditions such as Haemoptysis (coughing up blood), Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD), Lung Nodules, Pleural Effusion, and Pneumonia. 

A long, thin tube, also known as a Bronchoscope, with a light and camera attached at one end is inserted into your nose or mouth and gently guided down your trachea (windpipe) and into the lower respiratory tract. There are two types of bronchoscopes:

  • Flexible Bronchoscope: a flexible tube that can be inserted into the smaller airways such as the bronchioles to insert breathing tubes, suction out secretions, take tissue samples for biopsies, and administer medicine directly into the lungs.
  • Rigid Bronchoscope: a straight tube used in the larger airways to remove large amounts of blood or fluids, control bleeding, remove foreign objects, remove lesions or abnormal growths, perform procedures such as inserting stents and other treatments.
Illustration of Bronchoscopy

How does a Bronchoscopy work?

  • An anaesthesia is administered intravenously to help you relax and remove any discomfort you may feel. 
  • A numbing medicine is sprayed onto the back of your throat, then the bronchoscope is slowly and gently inserted into your nose or mouth and guided down your trachea (windpipe) and into your lower respiratory tract. You may cough as the bronchoscope enters your trachea.
  • As the bronchoscope moves down the respiratory tract, saline solution is flushed through the bronchoscope in a process known as lavage. This washes the lungs and allows lung cells to be taken for biopsy.
  • Tissue samples and mucus can also be taken for biopsy.
  • Other procedures may be performed if necessary, such as administering medication, controlling bleeding, inserting stents, or removing foreign objects.
  • Once all the required procedures are done, the bronchoscope is slowly removed.

What happens after a Bronchoscopy in Singapore?

You may feel a bit groggy after the procedure, so you will be monitored for a few hours to ensure that you recover well. A chest x-ray might be performed after the bronchoscopy to ensure that no damage was done to your lungs. 

Your throat might still feel numb from the numbing medicine so you will not be allowed to eat or drink until you recover. Your respiratory specialist will advise you on when you may return to your normal activities and diet. 

Who needs a Bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure in to diagnose or treat various lung conditions such as:

  • Tumours or lung cancer
  • Obstructed or narrowed airways
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Inflammation or infections of the lungs such as tuberculosis or pneumonia
  • Chronic cough
  • Biopsy of abnormal lesions
  • Control bleeding in the bronchi
  • Remove foreign objects
  • Placement of stents

How do I prepare for a Bronchoscopy in Singapore?

Before the procedure, you must avoid eating and drinking for 6-12 hours and you may be required to stop certain medications such as blood thinners and aspirin. Either a sedative or general anaesthesia will be used during the procedure, depending on your preference and advice of your respiratory specialist. 

What are the benefits of a Bronchoscopy?

  • Minimally invasive
  • Able to diagnose various lung conditions
  • Can remove foreign objects without surgery

What are the common possible complications or risks of a Bronchoscopy in Singapore?

There are minimal to no risks or complications involved in a bronchoscopy, however, they are more likely to occur if the airways are inflamed or damaged. Complications or risks include:

  • Adverse reaction to anaesthesia
  • Bleeding, especially if samples were taken for a biopsy
  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lungs)
  • Fever 
  • Bronchospasm or irritation of the airway
  • Bronchial perforation or hole in the airway

Frequently asked questions

Is a bronchoscopy painful?

No, you will be under anaesthesia throughout the procedure. You may have a mild sore throat after the procedure, but it should go away in a few days.

How long does a bronchoscopy take?

It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the required treatment.

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