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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Bronchoscopy

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • A problem that limits your ability to extend your neck.
  • A biopsy sample that is too small for a diagnosis.

Also, a biopsy collects tissue from such a small area, so there is a chance that a cancer may be missed.

What To Think About

  • Before a final diagnosis is made, the results of a bronchoscopy will be considered along with your medical history, physical examination, and the results of other tests including a chest X-ray or a computed tomography (CT) scan. A lung biopsy may be needed when all of these other results are inconclusive.
  • A needle biopsy with a CT scan is commonly used because it can diagnose many lung problems. A bronchoscopy may be a better option when the problem is close to the airway. Your doctor will determine the best method for you.
  • Virtual bronchoscopy uses a CT scan to provide a picture of the throat and airways. It does not require the placement of a bronchoscope down the throat.
  • Bronchoscopy methods that use ultrasound and other technologies can help diagnose and treat more problems than standard bronchoscopy. But these methods may not be available everywhere.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRobert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
Current as ofOctober 24, 2012
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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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