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Bronchoscopy with transbronchial biopsy
Alternative namesBiopsy - lung
DefinitionBronchoscopy with transbronchial biopsy is a diagnostic procedure in which a bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth to collect multiple specimens of lung tissue.
How the test is performed
A lung specialist (pulmonologist) trained to perform a bronchoscopy sprays a topical or local anesthetic in your mouth and throat. This will cause coughing at first, which will cease as the anesthetic begins to work. When the area feels "thick," it is sufficiently numb.
You may be given an intravenous (IV) sedative to help you relax. This medication may make you sleepy and should reduce any anxiety you might have about the procedure. The procedure can also sometimes be performed using general anesthesia, during which you are unconscious and pain-free.
If the bronchoscopy is performed via the nose, an anesthetic jelly will be inserted into one nostril. When the nostril is numb, the scope will be inserted through the nostril until it passes through the throat into the trachea and bronchi. Usually, a flexible bronchoscope is used. This tool is a tube that is less than 1/2 inch wide and about 2 feet long.
As your doctor uses the bronchoscope is used to examine the airways of your lungs, he or she can also obtain samples of your lung secretions to send for laboratory analysis. Saline fluids may be used to flush the area and to collect cells that may need to be analyzed by a pathologist.
The transbronchial biopsy procedure is performed using a tiny forceps passed through a channel of the bronchoscope into your lungs. You will be instructed to breathe out slowly as the pulmonologist obtains a small sample of lung tissue. This step is usually repeated until several samples of tissue have been obtained for analysis. Occasionally real-time chest X-rays (fluoroscopy) are used during the bronchoscopy to help direct the forceps to the desired area of lung.
How to prepare for the test
This test may require an overnight stay in the hospital. You must sign an informed consent form.
Fasting is required for 6 to 12 hours before the test. You may be advised to avoid aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen before the procedure. Always check with your health care provider before changing or discontinuing any medications.
Arrange for transportation to and from the hospital. Many people want to rest the following day, so make arrangements for work, child care, or other obligations.
Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child's age, interests, previous experience, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child's age:
How the test will feel
Local anesthesia is used to relax your throat muscles, and you may feel fluid running down the back of the throat and the need to cough or gag until the anesthetic takes effect.
Despite the anesthesia, you may have sensations of pressure or mild tugging as the tube moves through the trachea. Many patients experience a feeling of suffocation when the tube is in the throat, but there is no risk of suffocation. Try to remain calm. If you cough during the test, more anesthetic will be added.
An X-ray is often taken after the bronchoscope is removed. When the anesthetic wears off, your throat may be scratchy for several days. After the test, your cough reflex will return in 1 to 2 hours, then normal eating and drinking is allowed.
It is common after a transbronchial biopsy to cough up small amounts of blood-tinged sputum for a day. The pulmonologist will give you instructions on whom to contact should you cough up significant amounts of blood.
Why the test is performedA transbronchial biopsy is most often performed when there is diffuse infiltrative pulmonary disease , tumors, rejection of a transplanted lung, or severe illness that prevents the use of open lung biopsy .
The trachea and bronchi normally appear pink and smooth and have minimal secretions and no foreign bodies, growths, obstructions, or infections. The sample obtained with a transbronchial biopsy should be normal tissue from the lining of the bronchus and air sacks (alveoli).
What abnormal results mean
What the risks are
Pneumothorax occurs in about 2% of transbronchial biopsies. Usually this is followed with repeated chest X-rays unless the pneumothorax is large enough to require insertion of a chest tube to decompress the lung.
Whenever a biopsy is taken, there is a risk of hemorrhage. Some bleeding is common, and a technician or a nurse will monitor the amount of bleeding.
Lung infection may occur after any bronchoscopy
There is also a small risk of the following:
If general anesthesia is used, there is also some risk of the following:
There is a significant risk of choking if anything (including water) is ingested before the anesthetic wears off.
To test whether your gag reflex has returned, place a spoon on the back of your tongue for a few seconds with light pressure. If you do not gag, wait 15 minutes and try again.
Do not use small or sharp objects to test your gag reflex. Call your health care provider or go to an emergency room immediately if you have shortness of breath or chest pain after this procedure.
Update Date: 11/16/2002David A. Kaufman, M.D., Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT