Visualization of the airways is often the most effective and efficient way to evaluate a patient’s problem.
Bronchoscopy means the visual examination of the airways.
Bronchoscopy may be performed with either rigid or flexible instruments, depending on the particular needs of the patient. Rigid bronchoscopy is usually done by paediatric surgeons to remove foreign bodies. Flexible bronchoscopy is often done by paediatric pulmonologists for diagnostic reasons when less invasive test have failed to explain a child’s respiratory problem.
Flexible bronchoscopy is a test where a small bronchoscope (camera) is passed into your child’s airways to actually see what the lungs look like. This test allows the doctors to see if there are any airways squashed (e.g. by glands); or if the airways look inflamed. It is usual to perform a “lavage” at the same time as the bronchoscopy. This is a test where an amount of saline (salt water) is washed into the lungs, and immediately sucked back out again. In doing this we can get better samples of mucus from which we can look for organisms, and sometimes also look for evidence of other, more complicated problems. The lavage doesn’t cause any serious or long term side effects. If a bronchoscopy (with or without lavage) is thought to help towards your child’s care, your doctor will discuss this with you.
Most of the risks of bronchoscopy are those related to the general anaesthetic.
Once a bronchoscopy has been done the child can usually be discharged in the afternoon of the day of the procedure.