ZocdocAnswersWhen is a bronchoscopy performed instead of an x-ray?

Question

When is a bronchoscopy performed instead of an x-ray?

I'm 39 and confused about why I'm having a broncoscopy performed instead of an X-ray. Can't they both see inside of me except one is painless?

Answer

An x-ray is used to get an initial look at the body's internal structures. In the case of the chest, an x-ray is often the initial step used by doctors to help detect problems within the lungs (including pneumonias, fluid, collapsed lungs, and the detection of any masses). When higher definition is required, an x-ray is often followed by a CT scan. A CT scan uses the same technology as x-rays, but takes multiple "x-ray slices" spread apart by only a few millimeters, which allows for a very detailed picture to be pieced together. When an abnormality of unclear etiology is seen on imaging, then a lung doctor may want to perform a bronchoscopy to gather more information. A bronchoscopy is a procedure in which a scope with a camera is passed through the mouth and down into the trachea and into the lungs. Your doctor can actually visualize the inside of the airways with this procedure. If an abnormality is seen, then a sample of the tissue can be obtained either with a swab or through a needle biopsy.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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