Small samples of tissue can be taken from inside the airway. This is usually done to confirm the diagnosis of what is causing a lump in the airway.
Dilatation is widening of the airway. A small balloon device is passed into the airway and inflated, this pushes the airway open. Narrowing can come back after dilatation, the procedure can be repeated. Tracheal resection may provide a long-term solution for certain patients with narrowing in the airway.
Removing tissue and laser
Tissue can be removed to clear a blockage. This may be used on its own or in combination with a laser. A laser beam can be used to burn away tissue that is blocking the airway. There is a small amount of bleeding with either of these procedures. Bleeding can normally be stopped during the bronchoscopy. Heavy bleeding is very rare. If there is a lot of bleeding you may need a blood transfusion. If there is damage to a major blood vessel, bleeding could be fatal.
Stents are tubes that can be placed inside the airway after dilatation. They help prop the airway open and make breathing much easier. They are most commonly used to help manage symptoms of lung cancer. Stents may become displaced or make it difficult to clear mucus from the lungs. Extra tissue may form in reaction to the stent, narrowing the airway again. Very rarely a stent may wear away a section of the airway and damage a blood vessel or the gullet (oesophagus).