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Bronchoscopic Procedures

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that is used to view the trachea and bronchial tubes and is used to diagnose lung disease and infection. It may also be used during the treatment of some lung conditions.

How the Test is Performed

The procedure is performed using a flexible bronchoscope. A bronchoscope is thin device, usually less than 1/2 inch wide and 2 feet long, which has a small camera on the end to allow the operator to see deep into the lungs. The bronchoscope also has a channel that can be used to pass small instruments or fluid into the airway to collect samples.

When the scope is in the area of interest the doctor will take some samples using any of the following techniques.

There are other devices that may be used during bronchoscopy. These include:

How to Prepare for the Test

Do not eat or drink anything at least 6 hours prior to the procedure. You should not take blood thinning medication such as Coumadin or Heparin shots prior to the procedure.

You will need to arrange to have someone pick you up from the bronchoscopy recovery area and drive you home.

What to Expect Following the Test

Following the procedure, you will not have a normal gag reflex for 1-2 hours after the test. Therefore you will not be able to eat or drink during this time.

When the anesthetic wears off, your throat may be scratchy for a few days.

You will likely have an increased cough for a few days following the procedure.

You may have a low grade fever during the 24 hours following the procedure.

Why the Test is Performed

You may have a bronchoscopy to help your doctor diagnose lung problems. Your doctor will be able to inspect the bronchial tubes or take a sample of your lung tissue.

Common reasons to perform a bronchoscopy for diagnosis are:


The physician will go through in the detail the risks associated with bronchoscopy. In general, this procedure is very safe and associated with complications very rarely.

The main risks from bronchoscopy are: