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If you have a fibreoptic bronchoscopy, a thin tube with a tiny light, camera and other miniature instruments is passed down your nose or throat. This travels through your vocal chords and into your airways. Your consultant examines the lining of the bronchi to see if there are any signs of inflammation, infection or cancer. Occasionally a fibreoptic bronchoscopy detects a foreign body. Fluid or small samples of tissue can be removed for further analysis during the examination. It is also possible to widen a narrowed airway and insert a stent to help with breathing.

Preparing for a fibreoptic bronchoscopy

  • You will need to have a blood test prior to the test to make sure you do not have any problems with blood clotting. If we need to take a biopsy or remove a blockage from your airway, this can cause bleeding and it is important that your blood clots normally.
  • If you take regular medication to thin your blood, you may need to stop a few days before.
  • As this is an interventional procedure that normally involves sedation, you should not eat anything eight hours before, or drink anything six hours before.
  • You will need to remove any dentures before having the test.

Why would I need a fibreoptic bronchoscopy?

This examination is recommended if you have symptoms of unknown cause such as a wheeze, a cough that persists for weeks without explanation, a cough that produces blood, or unexplained breathlessness, hoarseness or noisy breathing. It can also be recommended when an imaging test such as a chest X-ray or CT scan shows up some abnormality that cannot be easily identified.

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