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Bronchoscopy Testing for Children and Infants

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This information was reviewed and approved by Dennis R. Voelker, PhD (11/1/2018).

What is a bronchoscopy?

Your doctor has suggested your child have a bronchoscopy as part of the evaluation at National Jewish Health. A bronchoscopy allows the doctor to look inside the airways in the lungs. Your doctor may do a lavage, which involves putting a small amount of fluid into the airways. The fluid is then pulled out. The fluid contains cells from the airways of the lungs. A biopsy of the airway may also be done. During a biopsy a small amount of the tissue is taken from airways, lung or lymph nodes. The cells and tissue can be studied closely to help determine a diagnosis and the best treatment for your child.


How do you get ready for the test?

  • Your child should not eat solid food for 8 hours before the procedure.

  • Your child may drink clear liquids until 2 hours before the procedure. Examples of clear liquids include apple juice, Gatorade, water.

  • Your child should not drink any fluids for 2 hours before the procedure.

  • Your infant should not drink breast milk for 4 hours before the procedure.

  • Review your child’s medicine with the doctor or nurse to determine which medicines are safe to take prior to the procedure.

  • If your child has diabetes, please bring the glucose meter, test strips and a source of fast-acting glucose with you (such as glucose tablets or glucose gel).

  • If your child wears oxygen at home please bring a portable oxygen unit with you. This includes oxygen use when your child sleep and/or are active. Your child may need oxygen for a while after the procedure.

  • The medication your child receives during the bronchoscopy makes him or her sleepy.

  • Arrive 1 hour before the bronchoscopy is scheduled to get ready for the procedure

  • Bring a favorite blanket or toy if this would be comforting for your child.


What is done during the bronchoscopy?

When you and your child arrive the nurse will explain what will be done before, during and after the bronchoscopy. If you have any questions, please ask. The nurse will start an IV. The IV will be used to give medicine to make your child sleepy. Right before the bronchoscopy, medicine will be squirted in your child’s nose and throat. This medicine makes the nose and throat numb. Your child will be given oxygen during and after the bronchoscopy to make sure your body is getting enough oxygen.

During the bronchoscopy a small tube will be placed through the nose into the lungs. Your doctor can see what the vocal cords and the airways in the lungs look like. A lavage or biopsy may also be done.

Once the bronchoscopy is done your child will rest. Your child will be sleepy in the beginning and the throat may still feel numb. Your child will be on oxygen in the beginning. When the throat isn’t numb your child can have something to eat and drink. This often takes at least 1 hour. Your child’s doctor will determine when he or she are able to go home.


How long will the test take?

Plan on being at National Jewish Health for at least 4 to 6 hours, although sometimes people stay longer. The preparation for the bronchoscopy will take about 1 hour. The bronchoscopy will take from 15 to 90 minutes. The recovery after the bronchoscopy my take from 1 to 3 hours. Sometimes, an overnight stay is required. Again, the medication your child receives during the bronchoscopy will make him or her sleepy.


How do you get to your bronchoscopy?

On the day of your scheduled test, check in at the Front Desk. If you have questions please call 303.398.1355. Also, if you need to cancel the appointment or change the time please call.