Sometimes we need to take a look inside our body but cutting it open is too invasive or not possible. Science has come a long way with imaging studies such as x-rays, computed tomography scans (CT-scans), and ultrasounds. These offer a look inside our bodies with startling accuracy, especially when paired with other procedures.
Breathing is a natural, involuntary process that is necessary for life. When you breathe, air goes down your trachea or windpipe, into your bronchi which leads into your lungs, entering into the bronchioles, and then the alveoli where gaseous exchange takes place with the blood vessels. There are some lung conditions that can affect this intricate process, and these can be identified using a range of diagnostic techniques such as a bronchoscopy, spirometry, and an endobronchial ultrasound.
An endobronchial ultrasound is a minimally invasive procedure that allows your respiratory specialist to have a look inside your bronchi. It is used to diagnose a variety of lung conditions caused by cancer, inflammation, and infections. A long, thin tube, also known as a bronchoscope, with a light, camera, and an ultrasound probe attached at one end is inserted into your nose or mouth and gently guided down your trachea (windpipe) and into the lower respiratory tract. The addition of the ultrasound probe allows your respiratory specialist to have a view of your lungs and neighbouring lymph nodes to check for any abnormalities.
If samples were taken for a biopsy, your doctor will inform you and your results will be ready in a few days.
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 procedure 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.
An endobronchial ultrasound is most often used for the following:
Before the procedure, you must avoid eating and drinking for 6 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.
Like all medical procedures, there are a few risks involved, these are:
A bronchoscopy is a long and thin tube that has a camera and light attached whereas an endobronchial ultrasound is a bronchoscope with the attachment of an ultrasound scope in addition to the light and camera.