What is bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy is a test that allows doctors to view airways and lungs. It is usually performed to diagnose or treat lung diseases.

Who conducts bronchoscopy?

This procedure is performed by a specialist called a pulmonologist who specializes in lung disorders.

Why is bronchoscopy performed?

Some of the most common reasons why bronchoscopy is performed are:

  • Diagnosing lung problems
  • Identifying lung infections
  • Biopsy of lung tissue
  • Removal of mucus, foreign bodies, or other obstructions from the airways. This helps clear the airways and improves breathing.
  • In certain situations, a small tube called a stent can be placed during bronchoscopy to hold open a narrowed or blocked airway. This procedure helps ensure proper airflow and relieve breathing difficulties.
  • Bronchoscopy can be used for various interventional treatments to address specific lung problems. For example, it can be used to control bleeding in the airways, treat abnormal narrowing (strictures) in the airway, or address a collapsed lung (pneumothorax)

Bronchoscopy Procedure

Bronchoscopy is commonly performed in a procedure room within a clinic or in an operating room at a hospital. The complete process, including preparation and recovery time, generally lasts around four hours. The actual bronchoscopy procedure usually takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes.

Preparation before bronchoscopy

  • The patient is typically asked to avoid eating or drinking for a few hours before the procedure.
  • Inform the doctor about any medications being taken, as certain medications may need to be adjusted or temporarily stopped.
  • Depending on the type of bronchoscopy, local anesthesia, conscious sedation, or general anesthesia will be administered.

During the procedure

During the bronchoscopy, the patient is positioned sitting or lying on a table or bed. The arms will be placed at the sides for comfort. The healthcare team connects the patient to various monitors to monitor vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. These monitors help ensure patient’s safety and allow the team to closely track the condition throughout the procedure.

A numbing medication, known as an anesthetic, will be sprayed into the throat. In some cases, an anesthetic gel may also be applied inside the nose. These medications help to numb the respective areas, reducing the likelihood of gagging or coughing when the bronchoscope is inserted into the throat. Initially, there will be an unpleasant taste due to the medication, but it will subside over time.

The patient is given a sedative to help relax.

The bronchoscope is gently inserted through the mouth or nose and guided down into the airways.

The doctor will carefully examine the airways, collect samples (such as tissue biopsies or bronchial washings), and perform any necessary treatments.

After the procedure, the provider gently removes the bronchoscope.

After the procedure

After the bronchoscopy procedure, the patient is monitored for several hours. It is normal for the mouth and throat to remain numb for a couple of hours following the procedure. During this time, the patient will not be allowed to eat or drink to prevent any food or liquids from entering the airways and lungs.

Once the numbness subsides and the patient regains normal swallowing and coughing abilities, one can start with sips of water. After that, the patient may gradually be introduced to soft foods and gradually progress to other foods based on comfort.

It is common to experience mild symptoms such as a sore throat, hoarseness, cough, or muscle aches after the procedure. The patient can find relief from discomfort by gargling with warm water and using throat lozenges, but it is important to make sure that any numbness has completely subsided before attempting to gargle or use lozenges.

In case the patient experiences any of the following, contact doctor immediately:

  • Fever lasting more than 24 hours
  • Increasing chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing up more than a few tablespoons of blood

The doctor will schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss the results of the bronchoscopy, usually within one to three days after the procedure. They will utilize these results to determine the appropriate treatment for any identified lung problems or discuss any procedures that were performed. If a biopsy was taken during the bronchoscopy, the tissue samples would need to be reviewed by a pathologist. The analysis of these samples may require special preparation techniques, causing variations in the time it takes to receive the results.


Select your Location

Please select your nearest location from the list below