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Bronchoscopy

How To Prepare

You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the procedure, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this procedure, fill out the medical procedure information form(What is a PDF document?).

Before you have a bronchoscopy, tell your doctor if you:

  • Are taking any medicines.
  • Are allergic to any medicines, including anesthetics.
  • Have had bleeding problems or take blood-thinners, such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), or warfarin (Coumadin).
  • Are or might be pregnant.

Your doctor will tell you how soon before the biopsy to stop eating and drinking. Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking, or your test may be canceled. If your doctor has instructed you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, please do so using only a sip of water.

Your doctor may order other tests before your bronchoscopy, such as a complete blood count (CBC), clotting factors, arterial blood gas (ABG), or lung function tests.

Arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.

How It Is Done

You may be asked to remove dentures, eyeglasses or contact lenses, hearing aids, wigs, makeup, and jewelry before the bronchoscopy procedure. You will empty your bladder before the procedure. You will need to take off all or most of your clothes (you may be allowed to keep on your underwear if it does not interfere with the procedure). You will be given a cloth or paper covering to use during the procedure.

The procedure is done by a pulmonologist and an assistant. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen level will be checked during the procedure.

A chest X-ray may be done before and after the bronchoscopy.

Flexible bronchoscopy

During this procedure, you will lie on your back on a table with your shoulders and neck supported by a pillow, or you will recline in a chair that resembles a dentist's chair. Sometimes the procedure is done while you are sitting upright.

You will be given a sedative to help you relax. You may have an intravenous line (IV) placed in a vein. You will remain awake but sleepy during the procedure.

Before the procedure, your doctor usually sprays a local anesthetic into your nose and mouth. This numbs your throat and reduces your gag reflex during the procedure. If the bronchoscope is to be inserted through your nose, your doctor may also place an anesthetic ointment in your nose to numb your nasal passages.

Your doctor gently and slowly inserts the thin bronchoscope through your mouth (or nose) and advances it to the vocal cords. Then more anesthetic is sprayed through the bronchoscope to numb the vocal cords. You may be asked to take a deep breath so the scope can pass your vocal cords. It is important to avoid trying to talk while the bronchoscope is in your airway.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 24, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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