This is a procedure performed with a "bronchoscope" which is a long thin tube with a suction port and a fiberoptic camera. There are two main reasons for a child undergoing a bronchoscopy. First, it allows the doctor to visualize the airways of the child from the nasal passage down to the small airways in the lungs. Secondly, it allows for suctioning of sputum or mucous and to take and analyze that sample for bacterial, viral, fungal growth and to look at certain cells that may be present indicating certain disease states.
It also allows us to analyze the sample for cells that may indicate that there is aspiration of food/formula from stomach contents after reflux events or from the mouth when swallowing. We are also able to use sterile saline water to "wash out" certain areas of the lung which may help in healing in certain instances.
Bronchoscopies are performed in the surgical suite and done under general anesthesia, with a pediatric anesthesiology team monitoring your child. This has been proven to be a more "patient friendly" method and allows your child to undergo this procedure with minimal pain or discomfort.
In general, this is an outpatient procedure and takes 10-15 minutes to perform but with the entire pre and post procedure monitoring will take upwards of 4-6 hours. If your child is an infant, they will need to be observed for longer due to hospital anesthesia protocol.