Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Bronchoscopies are commonly used to look inside the lungs and airways.

Bronchoscopies are commonly used to look inside the lungs and airways.
beginning of content

Bronchoscopy

A bronchoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to view your airways and lungs. This procedure can be used to diagnose or treat a condition of the airways or lungs.

What is a bronchoscopy?

During a bronchoscopy, a doctor inserts a small tube attached to a camera (called a bronchoscope) through your nose or mouth.

This allows the doctor to see your airways and take photographs or videos of them. It also allows them to take a sample of the tissue there, which is known as a biopsy.

The results from a bronchoscopy help the doctor make a diagnosis and plan the right treatment for your condition.

When is a bronchoscopy used?

If you have an abnormal chest X-ray or computerised tomography (CT) scan result, your doctor may ask you to undergo a bronchoscopy to help diagnose:

You may also have a bronchoscopy to treat an airway problem. This might involve:

There are no good alternatives to bronchoscopy.

Preparing for your bronchoscopy

Don’t eat for 6–12 hours before your bronchoscopy. You should also consult your doctor about any medications you are on, including:

You’ll need to arrange for someone to take you home afterwards.

What’s involved with having a bronchoscopy?

Before the procedure, your doctor will give you a local anaesthetic so that you do not feel pain. This is usually a spray or a gargle. You might also be given an injection to make you drowsy.

It might be slightly uncomfortable to have the tube inserted. It will probably be in your airways for 20 minutes or less. You will be able to breathe.

After the bronchoscopy, you will spend some time in recovery waiting for the anaesthetic and sedative to wear off.

For a few days, you might feel an irritation in your throat. But it should go away.

Are bronchoscopies safe?

For most people a bronchoscopy is a safe procedure, but like with any medical test there are some risks:

  • bleeding
  • infection
  • difficulty breathing
  • fever.

In rare cases, you can get a collapsed lung. If this happens, it can be treated immediately by your doctor.

More information

Lung Foundation Australia has information about lung health and a fact sheet about bronchoscopy.

Last reviewed: February 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 10 results

Bronchoscopy

Bronchoscopy is an examination of your windpipe and air passages by means of a flexible telescope. Like an endoscopy to look at the stomach, bronchoscopy is a test that your doctor will suggest when there is a need to have a look in the air passages, or take samples from the lung when testing for certain diseases. Unlike x-rays which take “photographs” of the lung, bronchoscopy lets the doctor see inside the windpipes, an area not clearly shown on x-rays. Bronchoscopy can also help in making the diagnosis and in planning the right treatment for people with lung disease.

Read more on Lung Foundation Australia website

Pleurisy

Each lung is wrapped in a thin membrane called the visceral pleura. The chest wall is similarly lined (parietal pleura). These two membranes touch and slide across each other while we breathe, lubricated by a slick of fluid.

Read more on Lung Foundation Australia website

Pleurisy

Treating any infection of the upper respiratory tract quickly will reduce the risk of developing pleurisy.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

AFB Smear and Culture - Lab Tests Online AU

To help identify a mycobacterial infection; to diagnose tuberculosis (TB); to monitor the effectiveness of treatment

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Small and Oat Cell Carcinoma - Information & Support - CanTeen

Small cell lung cancers occurs when cancer cells form in lung tissue and include oat cell cancers. Learn more about causes and treatments with CanTeen.

Read more on CanTeen website

Thoracic cancer support

Information on diagnosis, treatment and support services available to people who have been diagnosed with thoracic cancer.

Read more on WA Health website

Large Cell Lung Cancers - Information, Treatment & Support - CanTeen

Non-small cell lung cancers are a range of conditions that occur when cancer cells form in lung tissue. Learn more about causes and treatments.

Read more on CanTeen website

ACE - Lab Tests Online AU

To help diagnose and monitor sarcoidosis; to help differentiate this systemic condition from other disorders causing similar symptoms

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Endoscopy - myDr.com.au

Endoscopy is a medical procedure where a doctor uses a thin flexible lighted tube inserted into the body to look for and diagnose disease.

Read more on myDr website

Lung cancer - Cancer Council Australia

What is lung cancer? Find out the symptoms, causes, treatment options and more. Get the facts from Cancer Council here.

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback