Bronchoscopy. A Bronchoscopy is an examination of the lungs by a pulmonary physician using a fiberoptic scope and, frequently, fluoroscopic X-rays. This test will allow the doctor to see the condition of your lungs from the inside without having a surgical procedure.
During a Bronchoscopy, tiny samples of tissue may be painlessly removed so that they can be examined in greater detail under a microscope.
During the test
Initially, your doctor will provide an explanation of the reasons for the procedure, along with instructions about proper preparation for it. The most common instruction is “nothing to eat or drink after midnight” before the Bronchoscopy. Instructions may vary according to each patient’s needs and must be followed exactly.
You will probably be admitted to one of the regular nursing units early on the morning of the exam. Your nurse will check your vital signs, answer questions, and also will ask you to sign a consent form for the procedure and for IV sedative medication.
Shortly before the scheduled time for the examination, you will be transferred to the Special Procedures Room, where a Respiratory Therapist will administer a breathing treatment which opens the lunge passages and numbs the throat. The Special Procedures Nurse will place cardiac monitor leads on your chest, and attach a blood pressure cuff, usually on the left arm. A small clip device is placed on one finger. This device will measure your oxygen during the Bronchoscopy. You may also be given oxygen.
At the doctor’s instruction, sedative medication is given by the nurse through the IV. This medication causes pleasant relaxation without loss of consciousness, and makes it easier for the doctor to perform a thorough examination. While there may be some pressure sensations during the Bronchoscopy, you can expect to be fairly comfortable as the sedative medication may be repeated as often as you may require.
After the procedure you will be asked to rest for a while. Blood pressure and other vital signs will be checked every few minutes. Then you may be taken to the Ground Floor Radiology Department for a chest X-ray and transferred back to your room. The Special Procedures Nurse will review written instructions with you prior to leaving you in your room.
After the test
Once back in your room, you will need to rest in bed and to ring the call bell for assistance the first few times you get out of bed. It will take about an hour for the sedative medication to wear off. Your throat may be sore and you may find your sputum is slightly blood-streaked. These are common after-effects of the Bronchoscopy and will go away without treatment. It is important that you report any unusual symptoms to your nurse immediately.
You will be permitted to eat and drink about 90 minutes after returning to your room. It is important to start with just a small sip of water to be certain your swallowing reflex has returned. Your doctor will review your test results with you, and in most instances you can expect to be discharged on the same day as the procedure.
If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask your doctor or nurse.