Useful Information for Patients

Bronchoscopy

What is a bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that is done so that your respiratory specialist can look in your airways. A thin flexible tube with a camera will be inserted through your month or nose and will passed down through your windpipe (trachea) and then your airways.

During a bronchoscopy, the specialist may decide to take some samples of lung tissue via the bronchoscope. These samples will be sent to pathology laboratory for analysis.

Why do I need to have a bronchoscopy?

Your respiratory specialist may request that you have a bronchoscopy for many reasons. Common reasons include coughing up blood and persistent cough. However, the reasons are not limited to these.

How do I prepare for a bronchoscopy?

For the procedure, you will need to fast for 6 hours prior to your admission time. You will need to let the specialist know if you are taking any blood thinning medication (Aspirin, Warfarin, Xarelto, Plavix etc) or diabetic medications; these may need to be adjusted.

For this procedure, you will need to be under anaesthetic. An anaesthetist will administer medicine that will make you drowsy via a needle into your vein. During the procedure x-ray equipment may be used to help locate exactly where to take the biopsy samples form.

Is bronchoscopy safe?

Bronchoscopy is a safe procedure that is carried out by a specialist respiratory physician in a hospital. Possible risks include: pneumothorax (collapsed lung), bleeding at the biopsy site, allergic reaction to medicines used, hoarseness and fever. Other more serious complications are rarely experienced.

How long will I have to stay in hospital?

You will need to stay in recovery at the hospital for approximately 2-4 hours following your procedure to be monitored by nursing staff. You will be allowed to eat 1 hour after the procedure providing that you can swallow. You cannot drive yourself home and you will require a friend or relative to drive you home. Additionally, you will need to have someone stay with you overnight just in case you experience any complications.

What will happen after my bronchoscopy?

After having a bronchoscopy done you may cough up some blood or develop a temperature up to 38 degrees Celsius, in the first 24 hours after the procedure. If you have had biopsies taken, there is a small risk of developing a punctured lung (pneumothorax). Often this is detected before you leave the hospital however it can sometimes not be apparent until after the procedure. Warning symptoms include: sudden onset shortness of breath and chest pain. If you experience these symptoms you will need to return to the hospital immediately or dial 000 and ask for ambulance.