What is Bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy is endoscopy for the lung.  It refers to the fiberoptic scope that is used to pass into the windpipe and visually examine the airways in the lung.

Why is bronchoscopy done?

Other than a visual examination of the airways which could be necessary for many different lung diseases (such as lung masses, cough, etc), bronchoscopy also provides a way to take various samples from the lungs to check for infection or cancer.

How is bronchoscopy done?

The bronchoscope is a thin tube about the size of an electrical cord and it is passed through the nose or the mouth and into the windpipe as the physician is watching a video screen.  Before the procedure is started the patient is given what is called “conscious sedation.”  This type of sedation makes the patient sleepy and relaxed but not unconscious.  Before and during the procedure numbing medicine (called Lidocaine) will be sprayed into the mouth and airway to numb the throat, vocal cords and airway to help reduce coughing.  This medication can have a bitter taste.

What are the requirements for having a bronchoscopy?

Patients are not allowed to eat or drink anything after Midnight the night prior to the procedure (regular medications can be taken with a few sips of water)

Patients are required to be accompanied by an adult who can drive them home after the procedure.

Patients are also not allowed to eat anything for 2 or more hours after the procedure

What can patients expect if they have a bronchoscopy?

The procedure itself may only last 5 minutes (but can last up to 20minutes or more), however, the patient will need to expect to be at the bronchoscopy facility for several hours to give time for preop (i.v. placement, vital signs etc) and recovery

Cough is common both during the procedure and after, lasting up to 24hours

Mild sore throat or hoarseness can happen

A low grade temperature can be present up to 24 hours after the procedure and can be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen

Occasionally, if a biopsy is taken, minimal blood streaked sputum is expectorated after the procedure

What symptoms should I call my doctor about if they occur after the procedure?

  • Any fever after 24 hours post-procedure
  • Any bloody sputum after the 24hour post-procedure or any pure bright red blood
  • Sharp chest pain or shoulder pain
  • Shortness of breath