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What Happens After A Bronchoscopy?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - 17:21

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Bronchoscopy does not usually cause any complications. For the first day or so, you might have these symptoms:

  • Mild fever (less than 101 degrees F, 38.3 degrees C)
  • Hoarseness
  • Coughing up small amounts of blood (less than a tablespoon)

You can take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Advil) for these symptoms.

Avoid vigorous exercise for the first week after surgery. You can go back to your other activities as soon as you feel ready.

Nice To Know

When To Call The Doctor

Call your doctor or go to the emergency room if you:

  • Cough up large amounts of blood (more than a tablespoon)
  • Have trouble breathing
  • Have more than mild pain
  • Have a high fever (more than 101 degrees F or 38.3 degrees C)

Are There Any Risks To Bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy is a safe procedure. Complications are rare and may include:

  • Collapsed lung (pneumothorax)
  • Continued bleeding from the place where a tissue sample was taken
  • Allergic reaction to one of the medicines
  • Fever
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Spasms of the airways or voice box (larynx)

Bronchoscopy is more likely to cause a problem in people with these conditions:

  • Severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Uncontrolled asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Advanced neoplasia (abnormal cell growth)

Follow-Up Care After Bronchoscopy

Bronchoscopy does not require follow-up care or rehabilitation. If the doctor has obtained enough information to diagnose your breathing problem, you can start treatment right away.

Occasionally, people need a more invasive procedure such as:

  • Needle¬†biopsy¬†(thoracentesis), in which the doctor uses a needle to remove fluid from the space around the lungs
  • Mediastinoscopy, a procedure in which a doctor inserts a small, lighted tube through an incision at the base of the throat in order to see inside the chest
  • Thoracoscopy, a procedure in which a doctor inserts instruments through several incisions in the chest or under the arm
  • Surgical lung biopsy, in which tissue from the lungs is removed through a surgical procedure

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