As a person with asthma, Breda has had several bronchoscopies in the past. She explained the procedure to us and shared her experiences of it.
A bronchoscopy is a procedure where a doctor looks into the large airways, using an instrument called a bronchoscope, which is like a long, narrow tube attached to a camera. I have had bronchoscopies on four occasions, with two carried out in the summer of 2012.
I would have a line (also known as a drip) put into a vein, to receive some sedation making me feel sleepy and my throat would be numbed by some spray.I arrived at the hospital day ward (outpatients department), fasting from midnight. After the usual registration process, I was assigned a bed. A doctor told me about the procedure and what to expect:
- During the bronchoscopy they would do a bronchial lavage (washing), meaning that some water would be squirted into my lungs and removed. This would be sent to the lab to identify if any bacteria were present. Not all bronchoscopies require this though, as they may be investigating different issues in the lungs.
- The whole procedure would only take about 15 minutes, and that my throat might be a little sore or dry afterwards.
- I would have to rest in the ward for about an hour afterwards and be given some tea and toast, and would need someone to drive me home afterwards in case I was still sleepy from the sedative.
Afterwards I felt fine, just coughed a bit and my throat did feel sore. I went home to rest and felt fine the next day.
To anyone who is considering volunteering to have a bronchoscopy carried out as part of the U-BIOPRED project, or who needs to have their airways checked, I would say, ‘having a bronchoscopy can be a worrying experience if you do not know what to expect, but if having the procedure can help doctors to learn more about your airways and how to treat you and others with lung conditions, it is a worthwhile experience.’
Breda Flood: President of the European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients Associations (EFA), and member of the U-BIOPRED groups for dissemination and ethics.
Find out more about bronchoscopy (PDF)