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Patient Information

Bronchoscopy

https://kingstonhospital.nhs.uk/information/bronchoscopy

This explains what a bronchoscopy is, why you might need one and what happens during and after the procedure.

What is a bronchoscopy?

Lungs diagram

A bronchoscopy is a test whereby a doctor examines the inside of your lungs.

They use a bronchoscope.  This is a flexible tube (no wider than a pencil) with a camera on the end.

If necessary, during the procedure your doctor can take small samples of your lung to send for testing. Taking a sample is known as a biopsy.

Why do I need a bronchoscopy?

When your doctor recommends a bronchoscopy, they will explain the reasons.  Usually it is because you have one or more of the following:

  • ongoing chest infection
  • coughing up blood
  • persistent cough
  • noisy breathing
  • an abnormal chest X ray.

My appointment details

Date of appointment
Time of appointment
Location of appointment at Kingston HospitalEndoscopy Suite, Level 7, Esher Wing

How do I prepare for my bronchoscopy?

Before your bronchoscopy:

Do not eat for 6 hours before your bronchoscopy.

Do not drink for 4 hours before your bronchoscopy. If you need to take tablets, you can have small sips of water while you take them.

Do arrange for someone to pick you up after the procedure. 

Do arrange for someone to stay with you overnight if you live alone.

Read through this information carefully so you know what to expect when you have your procedure.

If you have been given a digital bronchoscopy consent form, read through it and sign it.

Contact the chest clinic in advance of your bronchoscopy:
  • if you have diabetes.  They will make a plan for your regular medications.
  • if you are on a blood thinner (such as Warfarin, rivoroxaban, apixaban, aspirin, or clopidogrel) and have not already been told to stop these before the bronchoscopy.  The doctor who plans your procedure will usually advise you when to stop these medications for a short period in advance.  In some situations you may need to take a blood test just before the procedure.

If you cannot attend your appointment, contact the chest clinic to let them know (see Contacts section).

What happens during the bronchoscopy?

  • When you arrive at the Endoscopy Suite, you will meet the endoscopy nurses.  They will measure your heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels. 
  • The doctors will ask you to confirm that you have read the information about your bronchoscopy. If you have not already signed a consent form, they will ask you to do so.
  • When you are ready, the doctor will spray the back of your throat and inside of your nose with an anaesthetic.  This will numb your nose and mouth so you don’t feel any pain during the procedure.
  • The doctor may give you an injection of medication to make you feel relaxed and sleepy.
  • The doctor will pass the bronchoscope through your mouth or nose into the back of your throat. You may cough or feel breathless, but this usually settles. The team will watch you carefully throughout the test. If you need it, you will be given some extra oxygen.
  • The test usually lasts about 15 to 20 minutes.

What happens after the bronchoscopy?

After the procedure:

  • The nurses will monitor you to make sure you are safe to go home.
  • When you are ready to go home, someone must collect you and take you home.  You must not drive or take public transport until 24 hours after the procedure.
  • Your voice may be a little bit hoarse and your throat may be a little sore. This usually returns to normal after a day or two.
  • You may experience a small nosebleed or specks of blood in your phlegm.

Wait until the numbness in your throat has worn off before eating or drinking.  This usually takes about two hours.

Allow 24 hours after the procedure before you drive or operate heavy machinery

Allow 24 hours after the procedure before you drink alcohol.

Are there any risks involved in a bronchoscopy?

This is generally a safe procedure.  The associated risks are:

  • Bleeding. You may have a nosebleed or cough up some blood. This is quite common, especially after a biopsy. It usually stops within 24 hours. Ask to speak to your doctor if the bleeding continues.
  • Collapse of the lung. This is rare. If this happens you will need to stay in hospital for a few days. A collapsed lung sometimes improves by itself. If you need a procedure to re-expand your lung, we will give you a local anaesthetic and make a small cut in your skin. We will pass a small tube through the cut and leave it in place to drain the space around your lung. This allows the lung to re-expand. It usually takes one or two days. The procedure is done on the ward and most people don’t find it too painful.

  • Infection. This is rare.  If it happens, we will prescribe antibiotics for you.
  • Low grade temperature. This lasts for 2 to 3 hours after the procedure.  Contact your GP if your temperature does not come down after 2 days.  In this situation, your GP will prescribe antibiotics for you.
  • If you have asthma or bronchitis, you may experience wheezing or coughing.  In this situation, a nebulizer (mask) will be used to give you medicine.  We may also prescribe a course of tablets (prednisolone).

Go to your nearest Emergency Department (A&E) if any of the following occur:

  • severe or prolonged pains in your chest
  • excessive bleeding from your nose
  • coughing up large amounts of blood
  • extreme breathlessness.

Contact the chest clinic or your GP if you are worried or feel unwell following your procedure.

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Bronchoscopy - Kingston Hospital Download PDF


Contacts

Kingston Hospital Chest Clinic, Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm 020 8934 2321, option 3
Kingston Hospital Endoscopy Unit, Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm 020 8934 2009

Translate Please speak to a member of staff before or during your visit to the hospital if you require translation.
Accessibility Please contact the Patient Experience Team on 020 8934 3850 if you need this information in a different format.
For information accessibility please visit Kingston Hospital AccessAble www.accessable.co.uk/kingston-hospital-nhs-foundation-trust
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Accessibility

Please contact the Patient Experience Team on 020 893 3850 if you need this information in a different format.
For detailed information on accessibility at Kingston Hospital visit Kingston Hospital AccessAble (https://www.accessable.co.uk/kingston-hospital-nhs-foundation-trust).


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