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What You Need to Know About Your Navigational Bronchoscopy Procedure

Helping you understand the Navigational Bronchoscopy procedure, its advantages, and how to prepare for it.

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Dayton Respiratory Center

Mar 18 2022

4 mins read

Advancements in science have made the previously unimaginable achievable. Doctors are now able to diagnose and treat a medical condition with much more accuracy. Moreover, they can now take a look inside your body without surgery. Navigational Br‎onchoscopy is one such technique, and it has drastically changed the treatment approach for lung ailments.

Bronchoscopy enables doctors to have a closer look inside the air passages of your lungs. This procedure helps diagnose and treat lung diseases, identify infections, or obtain tissue samples.

What Is Navigational Bronchoscopy?

Electromagnetic Navigational Bronchoscopy, commonly known as Navigational Bronchoscopy, is an advanced version of traditional Bronchoscopy. It overcomes many challenges faced by conventional methods. Doctors can now reach much deeper into the lungs to locate even the smallest lesions or perform biopsies.

Need for Navigational Bronchoscopy

Doctors may request a Navigational Bronchoscopy under the following circumstances:

  • To thoroughly inspect an abnormal X-Ray or CT scan that shows a lung nodule ("spot" on the lung), pneumonia or an unexplained change.
  • Conduct a biopsy.
  • Diagnose a persistent cough, coughing up blood, abnormal or noisy breathing, and shortness of breath
  • To remove thick mucus, a foreign body, or a tumor obstructing the airway.
  • To place markers for radiotherapy—A fiducial marker is a small metal piece placed near a tumor to guide radiation beams accurately during treatment. 
  • Dy‎e marking—marking an invisible (non-palpable) lung nodule to facilitate its removal or biopsy.

How Is Navigational Bronchoscopy Performed?

Navigational Bronchoscopy uses electromagnetic radiation to generate a virtual three-dimensional (3D) airway map that allows doctors to inspect and diagnose lung problems or conduct a biopsy. It is similar to finding an unknown location using GPS. 

Before the procedure, the patient receives local anesthesia and an intravenous (IV) medication to relieve anxiety and induce drowsiness. The doctor then inserts a narrow, flexible tube (bronchoscope) into the patient's lungs through their nose or mouth. The bronchoscope has a camera and a light source at its end that enables the doctor to examine the airways. Three-dimensional CT images, coupled with electromagnetic navigation, displays images on a screen that help to guide the doctor to the target lesion. The doctor may perform a biopsy (only if required) by passing tiny brushes, forceps, or needles through the bronchoscope.

Electromagnetic Navigational Bronchoscopy | Source: EJCDT

Advantages of Navigational Bronchoscopy

Na‎vigational Bronchoscopy has transformed the technology of Bronchoscopy by opening new avenues for diagnosis and treatment. It is superior to the conventional method in the following ways:

  • High precision in locating and acquiring the target tissue.
  • Lesser risk of complication
  • Non-invasive
  • Requires only local anesthesia
  • Rapid
  • Extremely safe 

How Do I Prepare for Navigational Bronchoscopy?

Inform your doctor about all current medications and allergies, if any. Your doctor may ask you to stop blood-thinning medications before the procedure. Do not take any medicines on the morning of the surgery unless prescribed by the doctor. Fasting is required for 4 to 8 hours prior to the procedure.

Before the procedure, you will be asked to change into a surgery gown and remove any metal objects like jewelry, dentures, a hearing aid, glasses, contact lenses, etc. 

If you plan to go home after the surgery, plan to have someone give you a ride. Though it's a minor procedure, you won't be fit to drive afterward.

How Long Does a Navigational Bronchoscopy Procedure Take?

Navigational Bronchoscopy is a minor procedure that lasts about 30 to 60 minutes. However, the overall time you should expect to be at the hospital, accounting for preparations and recovery, is about 4 hours.

What To Expect After the Procedure?

Af‎ter the procedure, your healthcare team will monitor you for some time in the recovery area. They will record your blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration rate before discharge. You may experience dry mouth for a few hours after the procedure and feel tired for 1 or 2 days. You may also experience a sore throat, cough, and a hoarse voice for a few days. However, consult your doctor in case of chest pain, fever, shortness of breath, or if you cough up blood.

Navigational bronchoscopy results are usually available within 1 or 2 days after the procedure. However, if your doctor conducted a biopsy, the results might take a bit longer.

Navigational Bronchoscopy is a very simple procedure that doesn't cause much discomfort. It is the most effective and safest way your doctor can diagnose the root cause of lung disease, develop a prognosis, and prescribe the best course of treatment.

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