The most common reason why your doctor may decide to do a bronchoscopy is if you have an abnormal chest x ray or chest computed tomography (CT) scan. These tests may show a tumor, a pneumothorax (collapsed lung), or signs of an infection.
A chest x ray takes a picture of your heart and lungs. A chest CT scan uses special x rays to take pictures of the inside of your body.
Other reasons for bronchoscopy include if you're coughing up blood or if you have a cough that has lasted more than a few weeks.
The procedure also can be done to remove something that's stuck in an airway (like a piece of food), to place medicine in a lung to treat a lung problem, or to insert a stent (small tube) in an airway to hold it open when a tumor or other condition causes a blockage.
Bronchoscopy also can be used to check for swelling in the upper airways and vocal cords of people who were burned around the throat area or who inhaled smoke from a fire.
In children, the procedure most often is used to remove something blocking an airway. In some cases, it's used to find out what's causing a cough that has lasted for at least a few weeks.