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Transbronchial biopsy

3-minute read

What is a transbronchial biopsy?

A transbronchial biopsy involves removing small pieces of tissue from your lung.

What are the benefits of a transbronchial biopsy?

A transbronchial biopsy is a good way of finding out if there is a problem.

Are there any alternatives to a transbronchial biopsy?

An x-ray or scan can show that you have a problem but a biopsy will help to find out exactly what is causing the problem.

Illustration showing a transbronchial biopsy.
A transbronchial biopsy.

What does the procedure involve?

Your doctor will give you a sedative to help you to relax.

A transbronchial biopsy usually takes less than 30 minutes. Your doctor will pass a flexible telescope (bronchoscope) through your nose and down into your lungs.

Your doctor will use the bronchoscope to examine your airways.

They will gently push small forceps down one of your airways (a bronchus) into your lung. Your doctor will use the forceps to take samples of lung tissue.

What complications can happen?

Some complications can be serious and can even cause death.

  • shortness of breath
  • bleeding
  • pneumothorax, where air escapes into the space around your lung
  • developing a high temperature
  • developing a sore throat, husky voice or a cough getting worse
  • allergic reaction

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after you have recovered from the sedative.

You should be able to return to work the next day unless you are told otherwise.

The healthcare team will tell you what was found during the transbronchial biopsy and discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need.

Regular exercise should improve your long-term health. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.


A transbronchial biopsy is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if there is a problem in your lungs.


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Last reviewed: September 2022

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