Your doctor has ordered a bronchoscopy (bron-KOS-kuh-pee) for you. This test allows your doctor to look inside your lungs by using a thin, flexible, lighted tube called a bronchoscope. A bronchoscopy is used to diagnose lung disease and infections and/or to remove foreign bodies, excess fluid, or discharge. A small piece of lung tissue may be removed and sent to the laboratory for testing. This is called a biopsy (BY-op-see).
How do I prepare for the test?
The following are general guidelines. You will receive specific instructions from your doctor, nurse, or testing center.
Please check with your doctor or testing center for instructions if you are taking any of the following medication: you will probably be asked to hold aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil, Motrin, or arthritis medication).
- Diabetes medication (insulin, Glucophage, or others)
- Heart medication
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your test. If your doctor or testing center has told you to take your routine medicines, you may take them with small sips of water only.
- A list of your medications
- A list of medication and food allergies
- A responsible adult to drive you home after the test
What will happen before the test?
- You will sign a consent form for the test.
- You will put on a hospital gown.
- You will be asked to remove your glasses, contact lenses, dentures, and jewelry.
- You may be given an injection to help you relax and to make your mouth dry.
- An intravenous (IV) catheter (soft tube) will be placed in your arm to provide you with fluid and additional medication during the test.
Please tell your doctor if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
What will happen during the test?
First, you will lie on a procedure table or reclining chair. Special wires will be attached to your chest to monitor your heartbeat during the test. You will receive oxygen, and your oxygen levels and breathing rate will be monitored during the test. Your blood pressure will also be monitored.
You will receive medication to numb your throat. You may feel as if you have to cough until it takes effect. Medication will be given through your IV catheter to help you relax.
When you are relaxed, the doctor will pass the bronchoscope through your mouth or nose, down your windpipe, and through your vocal cords. You will not be able to speak, but you will be able to swallow and breathe without difficulty. If you find yourself becoming nervous or anxious during the test, try to relax by breathing slowly, and signal the doctor. Be assured the doctor and staff with you are very skilled at performing bronchoscopies.
During the test, the doctor may use a specialized x-ray technique called fluoroscopy (floor-OSkuh-pee). Fluoroscopy will help locate the area of your lung that needs to be examined or biopsied. This procedure exposes you to a small amount of radiation, which has no known harmful effect. The entire bronchoscopy procedure usually takes about 30 minutes.
What will happen after the test?
Following your procedure you will be observed by a nurse. You will be asked to stay in bed and keep your oxygen on until the medication wears off. You will not be allowed to eat or drink until the numbness in the back of your throat wears off. When you are able to drink fluids, your IV line will be removed. You may have a mild sore throat and some hoarseness after the test. You may also have a small amount of blood in your sputum (saliva).
What should I report to my doctor?
Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following:
- Increased difficulty breathing
- Increase in the amount of blood in your sputum
- Uncontrollable coughing
- Chest discomfort
- Chills or fever
You will receive special discharge instructions before you leave the testing center.
When/How will I get my test results?
Your doctor will discuss the results of your test with you. Please talk with your doctor and/or testing center about how to get your test results.
If you have further questions, call:
What I need to do:
- Schedule an appointment at __________________(place) on_________________(date)
- Report to _______________________________________ at________________(time)
- Receive specific instructions: _______________________________________________
- Bring your insurance information
- Bring a list of your medications and allergies
- Arrange for transportation with a responsible adult driver