The lungs are host to many diseases, like tuberculosis, cancer, pneumonia, asthma, etc. In order to treat them properly, specialized diagnostic tests are required – bronchoscopy is one such test. It involves the insertion of a flexible endoscope or bronchoscope through either the mouth or the nose into the lungs and the respiratory system. The bronchoscope is connected to a camera and monitor to visualize the interior of the lungs. One can see various abnormalities like cancer growths, bleeding spots, foreign bodies, etc. Additionally, the bronchoscope is hollow – like a pipe – through which special instruments can be passed in order to take pieces (called biopsies) from abnormal areas seen inside. These pieces or biopsies are then studied under the microscope for proper and accurate diagnosis of various diseases.
Various types and sizes of bronchoscopes are available for all ages and diseases. One of the new type is called an Endo bronchial ultrasound bronchoscope or an EBUS scope. The EBUS scope has an ultrasound transducer built-in into the tip of the scope – which is the end that goes into the lungs. With the help of the ultrasound the internal structures can be accurately imaged and all biopsies taken directly under guidance of the ultrasound. This increases the safety, accuracy and yield of the procedure.
The diseases which usually need bronchoscopy for diagnosis include lung cancer, sarcoidosis, some types of tuberculosis, interstitial lung disease (lung shrinkage), etc. Another important use is the removal of foreign bodies especially in children.