The bronchoscope is a thin, flexible tube (about the diameter of a pencil) with a light on the end. It can easily be passed through the nose or mouth into the airways to allow direct visualization of the area.

What Will Be Done

Before the procedure, a small needle is inserted into a vein for medication administration. One or two medications are used to decrease anxiety and cause light sleepiness. A local anesthetic will be sprayed in the back of the throat and nose to numb these areas.

The bronchoscope is then passed into the airways. The procedure may cause some coughing but usually is not painful.  Sometimes x-rays are used to help find a certain area.  Bronchoscopy usually takes about 30-60 minutes. After the procedure is done, patients are watched 1-2 hours to allow the effects of the local anesthetic and medication to wear off.

No driving should be done after the bronchoscopy because of the medications given. Patients should plan to have another person take them home. Patients need to have an adult with them for 12 hours following the procedure.  No driving should be done until the day after the bronchoscopy.


Bronchoscopy, like all procedures, has some risks. There is a small chance of the following complications occurring:

  • Usual reaction to the pre-medication or local anesthetic
  • Pneumothorax (collapse of part of the lung)
  • Bleeding
  • Fever

What To Do Before Bronchoscopy

We give this information to patients when they schedule

On the day of your test you can have nothing to eat or drink after __________________.  Please notify us prior to the procedure if you are taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs (Motrin, Advil, Aleve, Naprosyn, Feldene, and others) or blood thinners (such as Coumadin).  You must be off the medication 
3-7 days before.

What To Expect After Bronchoscopy

The following may occur and are not uncommon:

  • Coughing up a small amount of blood
  • Sleepiness during the same day
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Mild hoarseness

DATE:  ______________________________

Please check in at the Outpatient Care Center of North Memorial Medical Center at _________

Bronchoscopy at _______________________
Go home about ________________________

If any of the following appear, notify our nurses or the doctor on-call at (763) 520-2940:

  • Shortness of breath or chest pain
  • Fever higher than 101 degrees F more than 24 hours after bronchoscopy
  • Coughing up blood for more than 24 hours after the procedure

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