Getting a Closer Look at the Lungs

Bronchoscopy is an examination that allows your physician to view the airways of your lungs and take samples of mucus or tissue from them. For the procedure, a thin, tube-like instrument called a bronchoscope is inserted through your nose or mouth and down into the air passages of your lungs.

The tube has a minicamera at its tip that transmits pictures back to a video screen. The instrument also has a passageway that lets the doctor remove mucus and cell samples from the lining of the lung and collect a small sample of tissue with a miniature cutting device.

Your doctor may ask you to have a bronchoscopy for one of the following reasons:

  • to follow up on an abnormal chest x-ray
  • to find the cause of certain infections such as tuberculosis, AIDS-related pneumonias or pneumonia following organ transplantation
  • to investigate and remove a blockage in the airways
  • to find out the cause of bleeding in the lung
  • to determine the cause of a chronic cough

JHWP Bronchoscopy Image

Publication Review By: Peter B. Terry, M.D., M.A.

Published: 22 Aug 2011

Last Modified: 20 Jun 2013