Flexible Bronchoscopy for Children

Flexible bronchoscopy is a special procedure that involves placing a special flexible instrument with a tiny camera at its end, called a flexible bronchoscope, into the airways of the child. Bronchoscopy allows a pediatric pulmonologist or pediatric chest specialist a detailed examination of the complete airways inside the lungs starting from the nose, throat, voice box, vocal cords, windpipe and small airways called bronchi. Bronchoscopy helps to see if the airways are blocked or swollen or narrowed, contain extra secretions or mucus, foreign body inside the airway, etc. Sputum or mucus can also be collected which can be sent for detailed testing in the laboratory for bacteria, fungus, tuberculosis etc. The details of the bronchoscopy are seen on the video screen and are recorded.

Bronchoscopy can also be used to perform advanced procedures like biopsy, removal of a foreign body, aspiration from lymph nodes, etc.

When is a bronchoscopy needed in children?
Bronchoscopy may be required if your child has a suspected foreign body in the airway, recurrent wheezing not improving with treatment, noisy breathing/stridor, chronic cough, persistent pneumonia, suspected tuberculosis, drug resistant tuberculosis, etc.

Is bronchoscopy done under sedation?
Bronchoscopy in children is done under mild sedation and local anaesthesia to help them relax and make the test more comfortable. This can be done in the bronchoscopy room. Sedation is usually given by our colleagues in anaesthesia or intensive care.

What preparation is required before bronchoscopy in children?
The child requires to be fasting for 3-4 hours prior to the procedure. After the child recovers from sedation which usually takes 30 minutes, the child can take it orally.

How much time does it take to complete a bronchoscopy?
The bronchoscopy procedure takes 10-15 minutes depending on the situation. The total time might be 1-2 hours including preparation and recovery from sedation.

Is bronchoscopy a painful procedure?
Bronchoscopy is usually not a painful procedure. The child is given a numbing jelly (lignocaine) in the nose and local anaesthesia in the throat and airways. The sedative medicine used during the procedure reduces anxiety and pain.

What can be complications of a flexible bronchoscopy in children?
Bronchoscopy is a safe procedure with no serious complications.

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