ChristianaCare

Pulmonary Function Lab

Examining Airways and Lungs

Specially-trained respiratory therapists assist physicians in performing two procedures to inspect your airways and lungs: bronchoscopy and thoracoscopy.

Both procedures involve the use of a scope, which is a thin viewing tube. The tube is inserted into the body on one end and connected outside the body on the other end to a lighted viewing lens or digital camera. For bronchoscopy, a bronchoscope is inserted through the mouth or nose. For thoracoscopy, an endoscope is inserted through a small incision in the chest.

Bronchoscopy

Your doctor may order a bronchoscopy to diagnose problems with your airways, lungs or lymph nodes in the chest. Bronchoscopy is used to remove an abnormal growth or foreign object in the airway, or to take tissue samples—a biopsy—to test for diseases.

The lab may use either a flexible bronchoscope or a rigid bronchoscope.

The flexible version is used more often and has several advantages. You need only local anesthesia, and insertion is more comfortable. Your doctor also can get a better view of your smallest airways because the scope is thinner and made of a material that can be maneuvered through the airway with greater ease.

Sometimes, however, the rigid version, which is made of a straight, hollow metal tube, is the better choice. It is used when bleeding in the airway could block the view or when an object that needs to be removed is particularly large. Larger tissue samples can be taken with the rigid bronchoscope. It is also used for special procedures such as widening the airway or destroying a growth using a laser.

You will receive general anesthesia when the doctor uses a rigid bronchoscope.

Thoracoscopy

Your doctor may order a thorascopy to examine the lining of your lung to detect cancer cells that have spread there from another part of your body. The test is also used to remove fluid that has collected in the chest, a medical condition called pleural effusion.

When you undergo a thoracoscopy, you will receive local anesthesia and light sedation. If your doctor needs a tissue sample, an instrument will be inserted through the endoscope to retrieve it. The tissue sample is later evaluated by the hospital laboratory.

The procedure takes two to three hours. However, you must stay in the hospital for several hours, or in some cases overnight, after the thoracoscopy to recover.

Pulmonary Function Laboratory
Christiana Hospital, Room 1571
4755 Ogletown-Stanton Road
Newark, DE 19718 directions
302-733-1559
7:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday through Friday
Wilmington Hospital, Room 1156
501 W. 14th St.
Wilmington, DE 19801 directions
302-428-2259
7:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m., Monday through Friday