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Please Note: This page is related to procedures at Credit Valley Hospital site of Trillium Health Partners. Some of these procedures are also available at our Mississauga Hospital site - see Mississauga Hospital endoscopy procedures page » or see main Endoscopy page »

Understanding Bronchoscopy

What is a Bronchoscopy?

A bronchoscopy is a test where a doctor passes a thin flexible tube called a bronchoscope through your throat or nose into major airways of the lungs. This procedure allows the doctor to:

  • Examine the lining of the air passages leading into the lungs;
  • Take photographs of what is seen;
  • Take brushings or washings samples;
  • Take a small piece of tissue so that it can be examined under a microscope (this is called a biopsy).

What Preparation is required for a Bronchoscopy?

Do NOT eat or drink after midnight the evening before the test. You need to have an empty stomach for the test. You may take your usual medications on the morning of the test with a sip of water only

What happens during the Bronchoscopy?

An intravenous will be started and you will be given medication to help you feel relaxed and sleepy. This is not a general anesthetic. Your throat will be sprayed with local anesthetic (freezing) so you do not feel anything. Your doctor will pass the bronchoscope through your mouth or nose into your throat and into your trachea (windpipe). Some patients may cough or gag briefly when this is done. The bronchoscope is much narrower than your trachea, so you will be able to breathe easily during the procedure.

What if the Specialist finds something abnormal during the Bronchoscopy?

If your doctor collects sputum or tissue samples for biopsy, a tiny biopsy tool or brush will be used through the scope. A salt (saline) fluid may be used to wash your airway, then the samples are collected and sent to the lab to be studied. Small biopsy forceps may be used to remove a sample of lung tissue. This is called a transbronchial biopsy