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Tracheoscopy with bronchoscopy is a procedure that lets the doctor look inside the trachea (windpipe) and down into the lower airways. To do this, a tool called an endoscope is used. This is a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera on the tip. This sheet explains the procedure and what to expect.
Prepare for the procedure as you have been told. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take. This includes over-the-counter drugs. It also includes herbs and other supplements. You may need to stop taking some or all of them before surgery.
The procedure can take up to 45 minutes. You will go home the same day. Before the procedure begins, your throat will be numbed. You may also be given medication to help you relax. During the procedure:
You sit upright in a chair that supports your head.
The endoscope is gently inserted into your nose and moved down into your throat, between the vocal cords. It may then be advanced into the lower airways. You will need to breathe through your mouth while the endoscope is in place.
The endoscope sends pictures from inside the trachea and lower airways to a video screen. The doctor uses the images to move the scope and look for problems.
If needed, the endoscope can be used to take a small tissue sample (biopsy) from inside the trachea or airways. This sample is sent to a lab for testing.
When the test is done, the endoscope is removed.
Have an adult family member or friend drive you home. Take it easy for the rest of the day. Due to the numbing medication, swallowing may be hard at first. This may last a few hours. Don’t eat or drink until swallowing returns to normal. Follow any instructions you have been given, such as:
If you smoke, stop for at least 24 hours after the procedure. Smoking will make throat irritation worse and slow your recovery.
If a biopsy was taken, try not to cough or clear your throat. This will help prevent bleeding.
Once you are able to swallow normally, drink plenty of water.
Use throat lozenges as prescribed by your doctor.
After you get home, call the doctor if you have any of the following:
Difficulty breathing (call 911 or other emergency service if this is severe)
Trouble swallowing that doesn’t improve after 2-3 hours
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
Hoarseness that is not improving
Severe nausea or vomiting
Bloody cough or vomit
Within a week or so, your doctor will likely see you for a follow-up visit. During this visit, your doctor will discuss the results of the procedure and biopsy. You can also discuss any treatments that might be needed.
Risks of this procedure can include:
Swelling of the throat
Food or fluids going into the airways (aspiration)
Vocal cord paralysis (rare)