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Why Is an Endobronchial Ultrasound Performed? Lung Diagnosis

What is an endobronchial ultrasound?

Ultrasound ProcedureEndobronchial Ultrasound helps the doctors to obtain tissue or fluid samples from the lungs and surrounding areas without invasive surgery.

Endobronchial ultrasound is a procedure used to diagnose various lung problems, including infections and cancer. The procedure allows the doctors to investigate the lungs and to take samples with the aid of an ultrasound scan.

Why is an endobronchial ultrasound performed?

Endobronchial ultrasound allows physicians to perform a technique known as transbronchial needle aspiration. It helps the doctors to obtain tissue or fluid samples from the lungs and surrounding areas without invasive surgery.

The samples can be used for

What happens during an endobronchial ultrasound?

There are several steps involved with an endobronchial ultrasound, which includes the following.

  • Endobronchial ultrasound is usually done under local and general anesthesia. 
  • A flexible small tube (bronchoscope) is passed into the lungs via the mouth. 
  • A small camera at the end of the bronchoscope enables the doctor to look directly into the windpipe (trachea) and breathing tubes (bronchi). 
  • A small ultrasound probe on the end of the camera allows the doctor to see the glands in the center of the chest (mediastinum) and take samples under direct vision. 
  • Most of the time endobronchial ultrasound-guided transbronchial needle aspiration is done to take samples from the center of your chest (mediastinum). 
  • The whole procedure takes about 20 to 30 minutes. 
  • Endobronchial ultrasound is beneficial because it is noninvasive, and also provides doctor access to more areas of the lungs, including hard-to-reach spots. 
  • This procedure is usually done as an outpatient surgery. This allows the patient to return home on the same day after the procedure. 

What happens after endobronchial ultrasound?

After the procedure, the patient is monitored. It takes a few hours before the patient may be able to cough after the procedure.

The throat may feel sore and scratchy for a few days. At this time, the doctor may also send a biopsy to a lab for testing. 

If a patient has lung cancer, the information from the needle aspiration can help the doctor figure out the cancer stage. Usually, the doctor provides results within five days after the procedure.

What are the risks of endobronchial ultrasound?

Endobronchial ultrasound bronchoscopy is extremely safe but, as with any medical procedure, there is a small risk of complications that include:

  • Bleeding from the biopsy
  • Infection after the procedure
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Low oxygen levels during or after the procedure 
  • Lung collapse of the lung (very rare)

All these complications are treatable but may require the patient to be admitted to the hospital instead of going home the same day after the procedure. 

Is an endobronchial ultrasound painful?

Although some patients may experience a sore throat and fatigue after the procedure, endobronchial ultrasound is safe and isn’t associated with pain.

Once the procedure is completed, the patient may remain under observation for a couple hours until the effects of the medications wear off. The patient might then be discharged home on the same day.


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