Bronchoscopy, Diagnostic


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.
Respiratory Pathway
Resp pathway with sinus
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Procedure

Bronchoscopy is most often done for the following reasons:
  • Diagnose cancer, a lung disease, or an infection
  • Examine for obstructions and abnormal secretions
  • Obtain a tissue sample for examination under a microscope—biopsy
  • Obtain a secretion sample
  • Investigate the source of a persistent cough or blood that is being coughed up
  • Check for a foreign object that may have accidentally been inhaled rather than swallowed

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Bleeding
  • Collapsed lung
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Infection
  • Sore and swollen throat
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do some or all of the following:Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one 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.

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.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care CenterRight 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.
At HomeWhen 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.

leave comments
Did you like this? Share with your family and friends.
Related Topics: Health And Healing
Meet Our Health Experts
Healing and Transformation

Healing and Transformation

David G. Arenson
Destiny amp the Choices We Make
beginners heart

Beginner's Heart

Britton Gildersleeve
of outsiders refugees and the sound of hearts breaking


Our Free Newsletter
click here to see all of our uplifting newsletters »