You have been advised to have a bronchoscopy (a small camera to look into your lungs) to find the cause of your symptoms or to assess your condition.
Your Respiratory Consultant will discuss this procedure with you at your outpatient clinic appointment prior to the test, and you will be asked to sign a consent form. If you have any questions or worries, you can speak to the nurses or the consultant on the day of your appointment or you can contact the Respiratory Nurse Specialist on 01935 384 574.
What is a bronchoscopy?
A bronchoscopy is a procedure which allows the doctor to look directly at the trachea (windpipe), the bronchi and into some areas of the lungs. A bronchoscope will be passed through the mouth or nose into the trachea and into the bronchi.
The bronchoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a bright light on the end of it. It is approximately the width of a pencil. It enables the doctor to clearly view different areas of the lung.
During the test, we may take a biopsy (tissue sample). This is not painful and is removed by forceps threaded through the scope.
We may also need to use a tiny brush to gain cells from the lungs (brushings). This is done very quickly but it may make you cough a little.
We may also wash the lung with a little saline solution (washings) and suction it out to obtain cells.
Preparing for a bronchoscopy?
You must not eat or drink for six hours before your appointment. This is important and your procedure may have to be cancelled if you have eaten.
You may take your normal medication with a few sips of water the morning of your appointment. If you are diabetic on tablets or insulin, please follow the instructions you were given in clinic. If in any doubt, please telephone the Day Surgery Unit on 01935 384 339.
On admission to the Day Surgery Unit
- You will be seen by a nurse who will check your personal details. Please inform us if you take warfarin, or are diabetic, or allergic to any medication. Please bring a list of your medications with you.
- You may need to have a nebuliser before your procedure
- An ECG (heart tracing) may be required before your procedure
- Please remember that your appointment time is not the time you will have your investigation. There will be a waiting time between your admission and having your test done, and there will be a recovery period afterwards. Expect to be at the hospital for three to four hours
During the test
A nurse will accompany you to the procedure room and stay with you throughout. In the examination room you will be sat upright on a couch. The nurse will attach some monitors to check your pulse and oxygen levels.
Some oxygen will be given to you through a cannula in your nose. A local anaesthetic will be sprayed into your nose and through your mouth to the back of your throat. This can taste very bitter.
You may be offered sedation (medicine to help you relax), it will not put you to sleep. If this has been arranged you need to have a responsible adult to take you home and look after you for 12 hours. A plastic cannula will be placed in the back of your hand to give the medication. When the anaesthetic spray has numbed your throat, the doctor will gently pass the bronchoscope into your nose and down into your trachea. This causes no pain but may be slightly uncomfortable. It will not interfere with your breathing.
More local anaesthetic will be sprayed through the bronchoscope. This may make you cough, but as the anaesthetic takes effect, your throat will relax. The test usually takes 15-20 minutes to examine the lungs fully.
After the test
You will return to the ward and a nurse will continue to monitor your blood pressure and pulse. Your throat will remain numb and it is not safe to eat or drink. Your swallowing reflex should return to normal within three hours.
You may have a slight nose bleed or you may see streaks of blood in your sputum (spit) for a while after the procedure. You may have a sore throat or a hoarse voice for a few days.
If you continue to cough up significant amounts of blood, please contact your GP as soon as possible.
If you have had sedation, you need to be accompanied home and have a carer for 12 hours. You must not drive.
You will be given a patient bronchoscopy report before you leave.
If you have any further queries or concerns, please contact:
Day Surgery Unit
01935 384 339
Respiratory Nurse Specialist
01935 384 574