This procedure often takes about
an hour. If your doctor is using a flexible bronchoscope, a local numbing medicine
(anesthesia) is sprayed inside your nose or mouth. You may feel as if fluid is
running down your throat. It may make you cough or gag. That feeling will stop when
the numbness kicks in. You may also have an IV (intravenous) line with medicine to
help you relax. If your doctor uses a rigid bronchoscope, you will get general
anesthesia so you sleep during the test.
With either type of
bronchoscopy, your doctor might put a small amount saltwater solution (saline) into
the lung passageways. This liquid flushes the area and helps collect cells, fluids,
and other materials in your airways. It's then taken out through the bronchoscope for
testing. Your doctor may also put tiny brushes, needles, or forceps (which are like
tweezers) through the bronchoscope to collect cells from any suspicious-looking
areas. All of the collected samples are sent to a lab and checked for cancer.
As the numbing medicine wears
off, your throat may feel scratchy. You won’t be able to eat for a few hours. You'll
need to have someone drive you home. Some people want to rest the day after the
biopsy. So you may want to take the day off from your normal activities.