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Call your doctor if you have shortness of breath, a temperature above 101.0° F for more than 24 hours, or bleeding from your nose or throat. If you have chest pain or severe shortness of breath, call right away.

Bronchoscopy is an exam used to help diagnose lung problems. A thin, flexible tube called a bronchoscope is used. A special light and a tiny camera are attached to the tube. This equipment lets your doctor view your breathing passages.

Outline of human head and chest with head turned to side. Lungs and bronchial tubes are shown. Bronchoscope with light source at end inserted through nose and back of throat to bottom of trachea.

Before Your Test

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. If you don’t, the exam may be cancelled or need to be repeated.

  • Have no food or drink for 6–12 hours before the test. Also, avoid smoking for 24 hours before the test.

  • Remove any dentures or bridgework.

  • Before changing into a hospital gown, empty your bladder.

  • Right before the test, you will be given medications to help you relax and to prevent gagging. These medications may be given by IV. In addition, your nose and throat may be numbed with a special spray.

  • Make sure you have an adult friend or family member available to drive you home.

During Your Test

You will lie on a table with your head raised or sit in a special chair. The room is likely to be darkened. Bronchoscopy takes 45–60 minutes and includes the following steps:

  • The doctor inserts the tube into your nose or mouth. You might feel a gagging sensation. To help relieve this feeling, you will be told to swallow or take deep breaths. Your airway will remain open even with the tube in place. But you won’t be able to talk.

  • The doctor examines your breathing passages. He or she may also remove tiny tissue samples for biopsy.

After Your Test

  • To avoid choking, spit out any mouth secretions instead of swallowing.

  • Do not eat or drink until the anesthetic wears off fully.

  • If you had a biopsy, avoid coughing hard and clearing your throat.

  • The doctor will discuss your results over the phone or at your next visit.


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