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 Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

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 Endobronchial Ultrasound

What is EBUS?

By using the flexible scope doctors can gain access to the airways of the lungs. The scope has a special ultrasound probe on the end. This provides ultrasound images that are transmitted to a TV monitor for the doctor to see.

Ultrasound is a high-frequency sound that you cannot hear but it can be emitted and detected by the probe on the end of the scope. Ultrasound travels freely through fluid and soft tissues. However, ultrasound is reflected back (it bounces back as 'echoes') when it hits a more solid (dense) surface. For example, the ultrasound will travel freely though blood in a heart chamber. But, when it hits a solid valve, a lot of the ultrasound echoes back.

So, as ultrasound 'hits' different structures of different density in the body, it sends back echoes of varying strength.

The probe is connected to the ultrasound machine and monitor. Pulses of ultrasound are sent from the probe into your body. The ultrasound waves then 'bounce back' (echo) from the various structures surrounding the bronchus.

The echoes are detected by the probe and are sent to the ultrasound machine. They are displayed as a picture on the monitor. The picture is constantly updated so the scan can show movement as well as structure.

What happens during EBUS?

A bronchoscope is a, thin flexible tube with a light at the end that is connected to a video monitor. The tube is inserted through your mouth or nose and is directed into your trachea. Your throat will be sprayed with an anesthetic (numbing) medication before the tube is inserted. Endobronchial ultrasound or EBUS is a procedure performed during bronchoscopy that uses ultrasound to look inside of your airway. This scope can look lymph nodes and the doctor is able to take samples of the tissues The procedure takes approximately 1 hour.

In effect the ultrasound allows the doctor to see through the airways by showing what is on the other side. This allows the doctor to find the lymph node or tissue they want to sample. Then they can use the needle to take a sample of that tissue, while avoiding other structures such as blood vessels. This makes EBUS TBNA an extremely useful method of taking samples from tissue just outside the airways.

What preparation is required for EBUS?

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 After EBUS?

Most are done without any problem. Your throat may be a little sore for a day or so afterwards. You may feel tired or sleepy for several hours, caused by the sedative. You may also cough up a little blood for a couple of days following the test. You should consult your GP if:

  • You have chest pain that doesn't settle after a couple of days.
  • You continue to cough up blood.

What are possible complications to EBUS?

EBUS TBNA is considered to be a very safe test. Very rarely, an EBUS TBNA can cause damage to the lung. This can sometimes allow air to enter the mediastinum or even more infrequently 'collapse' a lung. It is also possible, although very uncommon, for the procedure to cause an infection or bleeding in the lung