• Medical Author:
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Understanding COPD

What are the indications for bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy can be used for diagnosis or treatment. (The lists below are not meant to be all-inclusive, but are intended to provide a greater awareness and knowledge regarding the indications for bronchoscopy.)

Bronchoscopy is used to make a diagnosis most commonly for these conditions:

  1. persistent or unexplained cough;
  2. blood in the sputum (coughed up mucus material from the lungs);
  3. abnormal chest x-ray such as a mass, nodule, or inflammation in the lung; or
  4. evaluation of a possible lung infection.

Bronchoscopy is used for treatment:

  1. to remove foreign bodies in the airway;
  2. to place a stent (a tiny tube) to open a collapsed airway due to pressure by a mass or tumor; or
  3. to remove a mass or growth that is blocking the airway.

What are the potential complications of bronchoscopy?

Complications of bronchoscopy are relatively rare and most often minor. It is important to realize that all procedures may involve risk or complications from both known and unforeseen causes, because individual patients vary in their anatomy and response to medications. Therefore, there is no guarantee that a procedure can be free of complications. The following is a list of potential complications:

  • Nose bleeding (epistaxis)
  • Vocal cord injury
  • Irregular heart beats
  • Lack of oxygen to the body's tissues
  • Heart injury due to medications or lack of oxygen
  • Bleeding from the site of biopsy
  • Punctured lung (pneumothorax)
  • Damage to teeth (from rigid bronchoscopy)
  • Complications from pre-medications or general anesthesia

(This list is not meant to be inclusive of all possible complications, but to provide information for your greater awareness concerning bronchoscopy.)

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/14/2015

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