A bronchoscopy is a visual examination and inspection of the voice box,
throat and air passages inside the chest using an instrument called
a bronchoscope. It will not interfere with your breathing.

Why do I need a bronchoscopy? 

This procedure may be needed for several different reasons such as:

  • To investigate an abnormal chest x-ray (e.g. a shadow on the lung).
  • To investigate coughing up of blood or phlegm.
  • To remove objects you may have inhaled (e.g. a peanut, a tooth or a fishbone).
  • To investigate a persistent cough or unexplained breathlessness.


Can I eat and drink before the bronchoscopy?
• You must not eat or drink anything for six hours before your test.
• If the bronchoscopy is in the morning, you must not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before.
• If the bronchoscopy is in the afternoon, you may have a light breakfast for example tea and toast at 6am. You must not eat or drink after this.

You should bring:
• Any chest x-rays, CT scans.
• Your prior approval number from your medical insurer. If you do not have prior approval you will be required to pay a deposit on admission as discussed with you previously.

What happens when I arrive?
On arrival, one of the nurses will welcome you and check your details. Your medical history will be recorded and you will be given the opportunity to ask questions. An explanation of the procedure should enable you to have a good understanding of what will happen and why. You will need to sign a consent form indicating that you agree to and understand the test and risks. You will have the opportunity to speak to your doctor again before the procedure.


What happens in the theatre?
Firstly, this is not a painful procedure. The procedure is usually done with intravenous sedation. A small needle will be put into a vein in your arm so we can give you any medications that may be necessary.

A light sedative to relax you will be given just before the procedure. You are not put off to sleep. You will sit on the bed while the doctor sprays some local anaesthetic into your throat to numb the area. If the procedure is to be done via the nose, anaesthetic gel will be put into one of your nostrils as well. Either procedure may make you cough. A small clip will be placed on your finger which will monitor your pulse and oxygen levels. You will be given oxygen through nasal prongs. There will be a nurse present with you during the procedure, assisting the doctor and monitoring your comfort. The doctor will pass the bronchoscope into your nose or mouth. While passing the scope, the local anaesthetic will be sprayed through the scope. This may make you cough. You will still be able to breathe and swallow quite easily, though the local anaesthetic may make it seem difficult. If using the mouth, dentures will be removed. A mouth guard will be placed in your mouth to protect the bronchoscope. When the doctor has finished and taken all the specimens required, the bronchoscope will be removed. If biopsies are performed you may experience a small amount of bleeding afterwards. The procedure usually takes 15 to 30 minutes.

You will then be taken back to the recovery room where you will stay until you have recovered (approximately 1.5-3 hours).

What should I do afterwards?

  • A local anaesthetic spray has been used, and so your throat may feel numb after the procedure.
  • Your throat may feel a little uncomfortable over the next day or so.
  • Your mouth may be a little numb after the procedure.
  • You should not eat or drink for two hours after the procedure.
  • It is important for you to rest quietly for the remainder of the day after the procedure, as the medication given to you may make you sleepy.
  • You should not drive or go to work until the next day. Please arrange for someone to take you home after the procedure.
  • You should also avoid alcohol for 24 hours.
  • You may notice some hoarseness and/or discomfort in your chest and you may produce blood-tinged sputum, this should pass in a day or two.
  • Once you go home you may return to a normal diet.
  • On rare occasions an infection may occur. If you develop shivers or shakes, high fever or experience any severe pain or bleeding, urgently contact:

MercyAscot Endoscopy Unit 

Mercy Hospital 09 623 5725
Monday to Friday between 8:00am and 5:00pm.
After hours phone Mercy Hospital on 09 623 5700 and ask for the Clinical Nurse Adviser.

A full report will be sent to your doctor.
• If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact MercyAscot Endoscopy Unit, Mercy Hospital.