Endoscopic Diagnosis of Chest, Lung Problems

You’ve been told you need an endoscopic procedure to diagnose a problem in your chest or lung. This procedure allows your healthcare provider to view the airway of your lungs and take a tissue sample (biopsy) or treat a lung condition, if needed.

Front view of trachea, bronchi, and lungs with flexible bronchoscope in trachea.


A bronchoscopy allows the healthcare provider to look directly into the airways in your lungs. This is done using a bronchoscope. A bronchoscope is a thin, flexible, hollow, lighted tube that lets the doctor see inside the lung. Tools can be passed down the middle of the scope.

Transbronchial biopsy

Transbronchial biopsy (TBB) is a procedure used mainly to take samples of tissue near the airway. This is done using a bronchoscope and tiny forceps. The forceps are passed through the scope into the airway, and a sample is taken.

Endobronchial ultrasound

Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) is a type of bronchoscopy. With EBUS, the lungs and the space between the lungs (mediastinum) are looked at using a flexible bronchoscope and ultrasound (images created using sound waves). Ultrasound guides the healthcare provider and allows him or her to see through the airway walls.

Preparing for the procedure

Before your procedure, do the following:

  • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about eating and drinking.

  • Tell your healthcare provider about the medicines you take. You may need to stop taking some of them before the procedure, especially aspirin, Coumadin, or other blood thinners.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about any allergies and health problems you have.

  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant.

During the procedure

You will get medicine through an intravenous (IV) line to help you relax and sleep during the procedure. You may also receive local anesthesia (numbing medicine) with a needle. Then a special spray is used to numb your throat and nose or mouth. This is to help keep you comfortable and prevent coughing during the procedure.

After the procedure

You are sent to the recovery room until the sedation wears off. This takes about 1 to 2 hours. Once you are fully awake, you can go home. You will need an adult family member or friend to drive you home. Your throat will be sore for a day or two. At first, there may be a small amount of blood in your sputum. This is normal. It should go away after the second day.

Risks and complications

  • Bleeding

  • Infection

  • Injury to vocal cords

  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)

When to call your healthcare provider

  • Large amounts of blood in sputum

  • Blood in sputum after 2 days

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest pain

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Hoarseness that won’t go away