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  • A bronchoscopy is a procedure used to look at the inside of your child’s airways. It is used to help find or treat lung problems.
  • Ask your child’s provider how long it will take to recover and how to take care of your child at home.
  • Make sure you know what symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them.


What is a bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that uses a flexible, lighted tube passed through your child’s mouth or nose and down into your child’s lungs to check for problems.

When is it used?

This procedure can help your child’s healthcare provider diagnose and treat lung or breathing problems or other problems with your child’s airways. For example, it may be done because:

  • Your child may have an irritation, growth, or scar tissue in part of your child’s lungs or the airways to the lungs.
  • Your child has a foreign body, such as a peanut or coin, in the airway or lungs that needs to be removed.
  • Your child is coughing up blood.
  • Your child needs to have a small sample of fluid, or lung tissue (biopsy) removed for lab tests.
  • Your child has a lung infection or pneumonia that cannot be diagnosed with other tests.

How do I prepare my child for this procedure?

  • Your child may or may not need to take regular medicines the day of the procedure. Tell the healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that your child takes. Some products may increase the risk of side effects. Ask the healthcare provider if your child needs to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Tell the healthcare provider if your child has any food, medicine, or other allergies such as latex.
  • Your child’s provider will tell you when your child needs to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep your child from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Follow any other instructions your child’s healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your child’s healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your child’s healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

This procedure may be done at a surgery center or hospital.

Your child will be given medicine called anesthesia to keep from feeling pain during the procedure. Your child may be given a local anesthetic to numb the back of the mouth and throat. Your child will also be given medicine to help relax. The medicine can make your child drowsy or fall asleep before the procedure. Your child may be given general anesthesia. General anesthesia relaxes your child’s muscles and puts your child into a deep sleep.

Your child’s healthcare provider will pass the scope into your child’s nose or mouth and into the throat, down the windpipe, and into the lungs. If your child’s provider finds signs of cancer or other abnormal tissue, your child’s provider may remove the tissue or take a sample. If a foreign body is found, it may be removed.

What happens after the procedure?

Your child may stay in the hospital for a few hours or several days to recover, depending on your child’s condition and test results.

Your child will feel some soreness in the throat or neck. Your child’s jaw may be sore or throat may be swollen. Your child may have trouble swallowing for a few days. Your child may have a cough or cough up some blood. These problems may last a few days after the procedure.

Follow your child’s healthcare provider's instructions. Ask the provider:

  • How long it will take for your child to recover
  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • Your child may have problems with anesthesia.
  • Your child may have an infection or bleeding, and your child may cough up blood after the procedure.
  • Other parts of your child’s body may be injured during the procedure such as having a collapsed lung.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider how these risks apply to your child. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2019-03-18
Last reviewed: 2017-05-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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