What is a bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy is a procedure to look for any problems inside your airways (bronchi) using a flexible telescope (see figure 1).  A bronchoscopy is a good way of finding out if there is a problem in your airways.

Are there any alternatives to a bronchoscopy?

An x-ray, scan or biopsy (removing small pieces of tissue) may give information about the cause of the problem.

What does the procedure involve?

If appropriate, your doctor may offer you a sedative to help you to relax.

A bronchoscopy usually takes less than 15 minutes. Your doctor will pass a flexible telescope (bronchoscope) through your nostrils and down into your lungs. Your doctor will use the bronchoscope to examine your airways. To help make the diagnosis, your doctor can perform biopsies and they may place a small amount of fluid in your lungs and then remove it.

What complications can happen?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Bleeding
  • Developing a high temperature
  • Developing a sore throat, husky voice or worsening of a cough
  • Allergic reaction

How soon will I recover?

If you were given a sedative, you will usually recover in about two hours.

The healthcare team will tell you what was found during the bronchoscopy and discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.

You should be able to return to work the next day unless you are told otherwise.

Summary

A bronchoscopy is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if there is a problem in your airways.

Acknowledgements

Author: Dr David Baldwin MD FRCP

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Medical-Artist.com


This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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