Rigid bronchoscopy is a minimally-invasive procedure where a doctor or surgeon inserts a rigid (inflexible) bronchoscope, which is a tube attached to a light and camera, into the respiratory airways through the mouth and throat, leading down to the lungs. The camera is hooked up to a monitor, allowing the doctor to see inside the lungs.
While flexible bronchoscopes are mainly used for evaluation and biopsy, rigid bronchoscopes have the added benefit of establishing and maintaining airway control in serious lung conditions such as acute upper airway obstruction.
The bronchoscopy procedure helps doctors get a clear and detailed view of the lungs and airways so that they can diagnose several lung diseases and infections such as lung cancer and tuberculosis.
It can also be used to treat certain lung problems and perform procedures such as:
Removing fluid from the lung airways
Widening lung airways
Maintaining airway control
Draining an abscess
Reducing the size of tumours
Removing small items in the lungs such as food or pills
Taking biopsies (tissue samples)
Washing out the airways
How does a Rigid Bronchoscopy Procedure work?
General anaesthesia is administered to help you relax and remove any discomfort you may feel.
A numbing spray will be sprayed on the back of your throat.
Then the rigid bronchoscope is slowly and gently inserted into your mouth and guided down your trachea (windpipe) and into your lower respiratory tract.
If needed, small forceps can be passed through the bronchoscope to take samples from the lungs for biopsy or to remove foreign objects.
The procedure will involve viewing the lungs and airways to make a diagnosis, and/or to treat lung issues as outlined above.
Once all the necessary procedures are done, the rigid bronchoscope is gently and slowly removed.
What happens after a Rigid Bronchoscopy Procedure?
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 Rigid Bronchoscopy Procedure?
You may be recommended to undergo a rigid bronchoscopy if you are experiencing the following:
How do I prepare for a Rigid Bronchoscopy Procedure 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. General anaesthesia will be used during the procedure.
What are the benefits?
Allows diagnosis of several lung diseases
Treats lung problems effectively
Maintains airway control in life-threatening situations
What are the possible complications of a Rigid Bronchoscopy Procedure?
There are minimal to no risks or complications involved in a rigid bronchoscopy, however, if they do occur, this is what to look out for:
Sore and hoarse throat
Adverse reaction to anaesthesia
Bleeding, especially if samples were taken for biopsy
If you experience any side effects after this procedure that are causing pain or concern, contact your doctor immediately.
Frequently asked questions
What is bronchoscopy done for?
Bronchoscopy is a procedure that uses a bronchoscope to view the airways and diagnose lung disease or problems. It can also be used for the treatment of some lung conditions or to remove blockages.
Are patients awake during bronchoscopy?
Typically, patients are put under general anaesthesia during a bronchoscopy treatment. If they aren’t, numbing spray or local anaesthesia will be applied to the throat to eliminate pain and discomfort during the procedure.
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