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Diagnostic bronchoscopy

Bronchoscopy is performed to examine the airways inside the lungs with a small camera on the end of a thin, flexible tube. A bronchoscopy can be performed for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes. Common reasons to perform a bronchoscopy are to determine if you have inflammation, infection or abnormalities such as tumors or foreign bodies inside your lungs.

How is bronchoscopy performed?

There is no general anaesthetic. The procedure involves light sedation for patient comfort. A small-bore bronchoscope is passed through the mouth into the airways (breathing tubes), so that the airways can be directly observed. It is then possible to take tissue biopsies from within the airways or to introduce and retrieve saline (salty water) as appropriate. In selected cases, it may be appropriate to take biopsies from the lung tissue at the edge of the lung (transbronchial biopsies). The entire procedure is relatively brief, taking between five and 30 minutes. For most people the procedure is not uncomfortable and many do not even have any memory of it. In some cases the bronchoscopy may make people feel like coughing and this can be uncomfortable, however this sensation only lasts briefly.

Side Effects

The procedure is safe and without side effects in most cases.

In standard procedures there is very little risk of significant complications although occasionally patients may:

In procedures in which a "transbronchial biopsy" is performed, there is a higher risk of complications, including:

Special Instructions for Before and After the Bronchoscopy

Patients who are taking anti-inflammatory medications (for arthritis or muscle pains, such as voltaren, ibuprofen, etc) or aspirin should cease such medications for five to seven days before the procedure in most cases. If you are taking Warfarin, special arrangements will need to be made with Dr Thompson before the procedure.

Patients should not eat for six hours or drink for four hours before the procedure. As bronchoscopies are generally performed at Pindara Private Hospital on Fridays between 2 pm and 4 pm, this usually means that you should not eat or drink after approximately 7 am on the day of the procedure. Patients are asked to present to main admissions desk at Pindara no later than 1hr prior to the procedure.

You will be unable to drive a car (or heavy machinery) for 24 hours after the procedure due to the sedation given to you, therefore you will need to have someone available to pick you up and care for you for 24 hours.

In the 12 hours after the procedure you may:

Results From the Bronchoscopy

Results from the bronchoscopy will generally take three to four days to become available, so an appointment should be made for you for the week following the procedure to discuss these results.