Bronchoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure to diagnose problems with your lungs or airways. Doctors use a bronchoscope to look into your windpipe and lungs. They can also attach small tools to the end of the bronchoscope to take samples of tissue for testing.
Bronchoscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that lets your doctor look inside your airways and lungs. It’s usually done with a flexible bronchoscope, a thin, bendable tube with a light and tiny camera at one end. In some cases (such as having a large object stuck in your airway), your provider may need to use a rigid bronchoscope.
Healthcare providers use bronchoscopy to find out what’s causing problems in the lungs, trachea (windpipe) or throat. They can also use the procedure to take tissue samples (biopsy) or insert a stent (a small tube) in the airway to keep it open.
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A healthcare provider may recommend bronchoscopy for many different reasons. Some of the most common are:
Your healthcare providers will give you specific instructions about how to prepare.
You’ll need to fast (not eat or drink) for a certain period of time before the procedure. You may also have to stop taking certain medications that can thin your blood, like warfarin.
You will have a sedative or anesthesia before the procedure. You should plan on having someone available to drive you home afterward.
The entire bronchoscopy procedure typically takes from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. It’s usually performed in a hospital as an outpatient procedure. During a bronchoscopy:
Bronchoscopy is an outpatient procedure, so you will not need to spend the night in the hospital. Patients can typically go home within a few hours of the procedure.
Your healthcare team will monitor you after the procedure to ensure you are breathing and swallowing properly. It will take a couple of hours for the numbness in your throat to wear off. You may have a sore throat, cough or hoarseness after the procedure for the next 24 hours.
Your healthcare team will let you know when you should expect test results and when you should schedule a follow-up appointment.
Bronchoscopy is a very safe procedure, but there is a slight risk of:
Ask your healthcare team when you can expect results. If they took biopsies during the procedure, the results should be available within a few days.
Call your healthcare team if you have any of the following symptoms, which can indicate an infection, collapsed lung or other problem:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Bronchoscopy is a safe procedure that helps your healthcare provider diagnose the cause of lung and airway problems. In some cases, providers also use bronchoscopy to treat lung and airway conditions. This outpatient procedure involves inserting a flexible tube through your mouth or nose and down into your lungs. If your healthcare provider recommends bronchoscopy, you’ll get more details to prepare.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/08/2021.
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