Bronchoscopy is the visual examination of the air passages leading into the lungs. The exam is done with a bronchoscope, a long, thin tube with a camera on the tip. The tube may be flexible or rigid, depending on why it is being done.
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
Leading up to your procedure:
Arrange for a ride to and from the procedure.
The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight unless otherwise instructed.
Local anesthetic will be given to numb the throat and you will have sedation. These will also help to prevent coughing and gagging. Sometimes, a bronchoscopy is done under general anesthesia. In this case, you will be asleep.
Description of the Procedure
The bronchoscope is a long, thin tube. It will be inserted through the nose or mouth. The scope will be passed down the throat and into the lungs.
The scope sends an image of the lung tissue to a monitor. The images and the scope may be used to remove a small tissue sample. If a foreign body is present, it may be removed through the scope. If a lavage is planned, a water solution may be used to wash an area. The solution is then removed and sent to a lab for examination.
Immediately After Procedure
The removed tissue or secretions will be sent to a lab for examination or culture.
How Long Will It Take?
Less than 1 hour
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia prevents pain during the procedure. You may feel a tugging sensation when the doctor removes a tissue sample. You may also have some breathing difficulty or shortness of breath during the procedure.
Expect some soreness in your throat and hoarseness for a few days after the procedure. Any discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
At the Care Center
Right after the procedure, the staff may:
Take an x-ray of your lungs.
Encourage you to sip water. You will gradually progress to solid foods.
When you return home, be sure to follow your doctor's
instructions. If you had to stop medications before the procedure, ask your doctor when you can start again.
You may be given a report after the sedative wears off and you are alert. It may take a few days to receive results from a biopsy. It may take up to 6 weeks for findings from a tuberculosis test. Ask your doctor when to expect your results.
Call Your Doctor
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
Signs of infection, including fever and chills
Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
Coughing up more than a teaspoon of blood
Severe nausea or vomiting
Increased or unusual stridor, which is a noisy sound that is heard when breathing
Pain that you cannot control with the medications you have been given
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Bronchoscopy. Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/pulmonary/bronchoscopy_92,P07743/. Accessed August 29, 2017.
Bronchoscopy. Merck Manual website, Professional Edition. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pulmonary-disorders/diagnostic-and-therapeutic-pulmonary-procedures/bronchoscopy. Updated October 2016. Accessed August 29, 2017.
Explore bronchoscopy. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/bron. Updated December 9, 2016. Accessed August 29, 2017.
Flexible Airway Endoscopy in Children. American Thoracic Society website. Available at: https://www.thoracic.org/statements/resources/pldd/pediatric-bronch-ts.pdf. Published May 1 2015. Accessed August 29, 2017.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.