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What is a bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows the physician to view the respiratory tract through a fiberoptic tube (bronchoscope). The bronchoscope is a flexible tube with a camera at the end. The tube is passed either through the mouth or nose and into the respiratory tract. This procedure also enables the physician to collect samples of lung tissues, cells or fluids.


  • Before the procedure, blood tests are sometimes required.
  • No food or drink for at least six hours before the procedure.
  • Intravenous catheter (I.V.) will be placed so that medications can be given if needed.
  • Please arrange for transportation home, as you may be drowsy after the procedure.

What You Should Know About This Procedure

  • The physician will explain the procedure and get your consent if he/she has not already done so.
  • Dentures and/or plates must be removed. A medication may be given to relax you and you may feel sleepy during the procedure.
  • Next you will be assisted into the proper position. The head of the bed will be elevated so that you are in a sitting position. Your head will be extended back as if you were looking at the ceiling.
  • The physician will then spray an anesthetic into your nose and throat to decrease discomfort and gagging that can occur when the scope is inserted. The anesthetic has an unpleasant taste and you will begin to feel your throat get numb.
  • The procedure will then begin. It is not uncommon to require oxygen through a tube in your nose or by a mask over your face during the procedure and for a short time afterward. A heart monitor may also be used during the procedure.
  • When the bronchoscopy is done, your voice is likely to be hoarse and your throat sore. These effects are temporary. You will be asked to temporarily avoid coughing and to spit out saliva/sputum into a basin until you can swallow normally.
  • The anesthetic spray used on your throat just prior to the procedure can continue to affect your ability to swallow properly for up to four hours after the procedure. Therefore, you will not be allowed to eat or drink until your swallowing reflex has returned. The nurse will test this by tickling your throat with a cotton swab. Once the swallowing reflex has returned, you will be offered sips of water. Until your swallowing reflex returns you will also need to remain sitting upright in bed.
  • Once the swallowing reflex has returned, salt water gargles and lozenges may be helpful for sore throat.
  • Smoking after having a bronchoscopy is discouraged, as it will increase irritation in respiratory tract.
  • Please inform your physician if you should develop any of the following: shortness of breath, wheezing, bloody sputum, fevers, chest pain.