Pediatric Pulmonology
Hasbro Children's Hospital

Flexible bronchoscopy

Pediatric flexible bronchoscopy is a non-invasive and safe procedure that usually requires sedation. A flexible bronchoscopy is performed with a special tube with a light in it called a flexible bronchoscope. This lets the doctor see inside your child's breathing tubes. This test may be done if your child has wheezing, chronic cough, lung infection or changes on chest x-rays.

How is the bronchoscopy done?

Your child will be given anesthesia before the test begins. During the test, your child will be given medicine to numb his or her nose and throat. The bronchoscope tube bends to fit your child's airway. Your doctor will put the bronchoscope into your child's nose or into a tube placed in the throat to make it easier to reach the windpipe. It is then moved forward through the voice box and into the bronchial tubes of both lungs. Often a small amount of salt water is put into the lungs, then suctioned out and sent to the lab. This is called a bronchial-alveolar-lavage or BAL. Sometimes a tissue sample (biopsy) may be taken.

The bronchoscopy may be done in a special procedure room in the hospital operating area, in a regular operating room, in the pediatric intensive care unit or in the pediatric sedation suite. Your doctor will tell you where the test will be done. The test usually takes less than fifteen minutes, but extra time will be needed for sedation and waking up. Your doctor will talk with you after the test to discuss the results. Usually your child will be able to go home with you the same day.

Are there any complications?

The test is safe and carries little risk. In rare cases, children may react to an anesthesia medication. We watch children closely for this and give oxygen if needed. Your child might be more congested or wheezy for a few hours after the test and may need oxygen during this time. If a BAL was done, your child may have a fever later in the evening. Your doctor will discuss the potential complications in more detail and be available by phone for 24 hours following the procedure.

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