In a flexible bronchoscopy, your doctor will use a flexible tube with a camera at the end, called a bronchoscope, to see down your airways. They’ll pass it down your nose or mouth, and then to the back of your throat to reach your lungs.
Your doctor can take samples of cells from your airways and remove a small piece of tissue (biopsy) so that these can be examined in a lab.
You’ll meet the doctor who’s going to do your bronchoscopy to discuss your care. It might not be exactly the same as what we’ve described here, as it will be tailored to meet your individual needs.
Your doctor has the option of using a rigid bronchoscope during the procedure but this isn’t common. It’s normally only used if your doctor needs to use larger instruments and cameras to look at and treat any problems with your airways. You’ll need to have a general anaesthetic if you have a rigid bronchoscopy. Sometimes a flexible and rigid bronchoscope are used together.
Your doctor will have talked through everything in detail before you’re admitted to hospital, and given you the opportunity to ask questions. They’ll have described the risks, benefits and alternatives to the procedure and the differences between a flexible and a rigid bronchoscopy. You should then be in a position where you understand everything so can give your consent for it to go ahead.