Bronchoscopy: Procedure, Preparation, Risks, & Results

Updated on 15 June 2022

Bronchoscopy: Procedure, Preparation, Risks, and Results

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that helps doctors to determine the condition of the respiratory system of a person. In this procedure, the doctor will use a thin tube fitted with a camera and light at one end. The tube is inserted through the nose or mouth down into the respiratory tube to see the lungs. The tube is flexible and can easily reach the lungs. 

When is it done?

A person suffering from any kind of lung problem will need a bronchoscopy because it helps to evaluate the lung problem. It is done in the following cases:

  • If a person is suffering from a chronic cough that is not going away and the person is also coughing blood. 
  • If a person is having difficulty in breathing
  • If a person is suffering from any kind of infection
  • If there is something abnormal finding seen on the X-ray of the chest by the doctor

Doctors can also use a bronchoscopy in the following cases:

  • It helps in diagnosing the problem and infection of the lungs
  • For taking the lung tissue for biopsy
  • For removing mucus, blockage, or any tumour from the lungs
  • For inserting a stent into the airways to keep the airways open
  • For treating several lung problems such as a collapsed lung
  • For checking the condition of the lymph nodes around the lungs

Preparation for Bronchoscopy

The doctor will give several instructions to prepare for bronchoscopy. General instructions for bronchoscopy preparation include the following: 

  • Avoid eating or drinking anything after midnight the night before the procedure.
  • You must tell the doctor about the medicines that you take regularly because the doctor may advise you to stop some medications a few days before the procedure.
  • You also have to remove hearing aids, contact lenses, removable bridges, and dentures before the procedure
  • You will be given general anaesthesia during the procedure and therefore you must bring someone with you to take you back home if you will leave the hospital the same day. You will not be able to drive a vehicle due to the effect of anaesthesia. 

Procedure of Bronchoscopy

The bronchoscopy procedure includes the following steps:

  • The doctor will call you to the hospital. The procedure is done in the hospital setting. 
  • When you are lying down on a bed, the nurse will check your blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rate. 
  • Medicine will be sprayed into your mouth to numb your nose. The nurse will also give you medicine through an IV to make you sleepy. 
  • After you are in a deep sleep, the doctor will insert a thin tube through your mouth or nose into the throat that will reach your lungs. A camera and light are attached to the end of the tube that helps to send pictures to an outside screen. 
  • The pictures also help the doctor to see the inside of your lung clearly. The doctor can also use the bronchoscope to take out a tissue for biopsy. 
  • The procedure will last for half an hour or more. The total procedure from the preparation time to recovery may take up to 4-5 hours. 

Expectations after a Bronchoscopy

The person is under the effect of anaesthesia and does not remember anything after the process. 

You will be kept under observation for a few hours in the hospital to ensure that you do not develop any health problems or complications. You may feel numbness of the mouth for a few hours but it will go away slowly. 

It will not be possible to drink or eat anything till the numbness is there in the mouth and throat. But, you can swallow. The doctor will ask you to take small sips of water and eat soft foods or liquid foods such as soup. 

You may have a sore throat or roughness in the throat after a few days. 

If you experience difficulty in breathing, bleeding while coughing, or chest pain, you must call your doctor.


Generally, Bronchoscopy is a safe process but like every other medical procedure, it is also associated with some risks. In some patients, the oxygen level may drop but the doctor can administer artificial oxygen using an oxygen pump.

You can also get pneumonia or fever after the procedure. Some bleeding may occur while coughing. It is a rare side effect but if you notice anything you must call your doctor. It can be managed easily while staying in the hospital. 


The doctor may give the results the same day or may call you later to know the results. The doctor may call you after the results get ready. The results vary from person to person depending on the purpose of the Bronchoscopy.

Bronchoscopy is a safe medical procedure done in the hospital under general anaesthesia to check the condition of the lungs or for the diagnosis of various lung conditions. Some complications may occur but your doctor can tell you the ways to manage the risks. Be sure to reach out to the doctor if you don’t feel right and get the treatment done in time.





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