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Information about bronchoscopy


What is a bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy is the examination of the voice box, throat and air passages inside the lungs with a long flexible tube with a camera at the tip which is called a bronchoscope.

Why have a bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy enables visual inspection of the airways to investigate and diagnose a number of conditions related to the respiratory tract (airway passages).

How do I prepare for a bronchoscopy?

You will be contacted by the booking clerk form the Endoscopy Unit about an appointment day and time.

Please inform the booking clerk if you are taking any blood thinning medication or diabetic medication.

MORNING APPOINTMENT: Have nothing to eat or drink from midnight the night before the bronchoscopy.

AFTERNOON APPOINTMENT: Have your breakfast and medication before 7am on the morning of your bronchoscopy and then nothing more to eat and drink after 7am.

What happens once I get there?

On arrival at the Endoscopy Unit you will see the doctor who will be performing the bronchoscopy. He/she will explain the procedure to you and you will be asked to sign a consent form. You will be given the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. The nursing staff will also take a short medical history from you and place a cannula (‘IV’ needle) in your arm. This will be used to give you some light sedation before the procedure.

How is bronchoscopy performed?

Before the procedure begins a local anaesthetic spray will be used to numb the back of your throat.A sedative medication is usually then given through the cannula in your arm. You will not become completely unconscious. Under sedation you may be slightly aware of what is going on in the room, but generally you won’t remember anything. The doctor and nurse monitor your vital signs during the procedure.

Protective glasses are placed over your eyes and oxygen is given to you via a small tube that sits under your nostrils.

The doctor then passes the bronchoscope through your mouth, down your throat and into your airways. You will still be able to breathe quite easily and swallow as well.

During the procedure the doctor will be able to see pictures of your air passages on a television screen and be able to take tissue samples for laboratory testing using small tools on the end of the bronchoscope.

The procedure usually takes 20-30 minutes.

Are there any risks or side effects?

Although complications can occur they are rare and will be discussed with you prior to the procedure taking place.

What happens after the procedure?

Following the procedure you will be kept in the recovery area until the sedation wears off. You will usually be given something light to eat and drink once you are fully awake and your throat is no longer numb.

You will need to stay in the unit for at least 1 hour following your procedure.

What should I do afterwards?

Due to the medication we give you, you MUST NOT DRIVE A VEHICLE for 12 hours after the procedure. It is important that you have someone to drive you home. It is advisable to have someone to stay overnight with you.

Spend the rest of the day quietly at home and do not go back to work. You will be able to return to normal activity and work the following day.

Your throat may feel a little uncomfortable over the next day which is normal

You may cough up a small amount of blood. This also is not unusual.

You will be given information regarding aftercare when you are discharged following the bronchoscopy.

If you have any questions or problems understanding any of this information, please contact the Endoscopy Unit staff on 570 9191.