Bronchoscopy and Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL)


What is Bronchoscopy and Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL)?

Bronchoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor uses a flexible tube with a camera at the end to look inside the lungs. This tube is inserted through the nose or mouth and passed to the airways in the lungs. Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is a type of bronchoscopy in which a sample of the fluid (or lavage) is collected from the walls of the air passages.

Preparation For Bronchoscopy and BAL

Your doctor may require you to fast before the procedure. You may also be asked to decrease medication or stop taking certain medications. Depending on the preparation, you may need to take laxatives or special substances that clean the air passages. Your doctor will explain any preparation required for the procedure.

Procedure for Bronchoscopy and BAL

Before the procedure, you will be given medication to help you relax. Once you are relaxed, the doctor will insert a small flexible tube with a camera at the end through your nose or mouth into the airways of the lungs. The doctor will then move the tube to different parts of the airways to view the condition of the tissue in the lungs. During a BAL, the doctor will collect a sample of the fluid (or lavage) from the walls of the air passages. This fluid is then sent to a laboratory to be analyzed. The analysis of this fluid helps to identify any problems with the airway tissue.

Types of Bronchoscopy and BAL

Bronchoscopies and BALs are usually done in the hospital or clinic under general anesthesia. However, some bronchoscopies can be done with a local anesthetic. In rare cases, an awake bronchoscopy may be done without the use of anesthesia.

Risks of Bronchoscopy and BAL

Like any procedure, there are some risks associated with bronchoscopy and BAL. These risks include infection, bleeding, and allergic reactions to the medications used. Some other rare risks include damage to the airways and tissue of the lungs, lung collapse, and breathing difficulties.

Why is Bronchoscopy and BAL Needed?

Bronchoscopy and BAL are usually done to diagnose and monitor lung problems such as infections, tumors, or other abnormalities. It can also be used to remove fluids from the lungs, such as mucus. The procedure is also used to treat certain conditions, such as airway opening.

When is Bronchoscopy and BAL Needed?

Bronchoscopy and BAL may be recommended if you have symptoms of lung problems such as wheezing, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood. The procedure may also be recommended if you have a chest X-ray that suggests an abnormality. Your doctor may suggest the procedure to treat certain lung conditions.