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Bronchoscopic culture

Contents of this page:


Bronchoscopic culture
Bronchoscopic culture

Alternative Names    Return to top

Culture - bronchoscopic

Definition    Return to top

Bronchoscopic culture is a test to identify organisms that cause infection in the lung.

How the Test is Performed    Return to top

You lie on a table or bed. A local numbing medicine (anesthetic) is sprayed into your throat. When the area is numb, a thin, flexible tube called a bronchoscope is passed through your nose or mouth and down your throat.

As the tube is inserted, a local anesthetic is put down the tube to numb the deeper tissues. When the bronchoscope is in place, biopsy forceps (a small scissors-like apparatus) may be inserted down the tube to take a biopsy. A bronchial brush or suction device may be used to take a sample of cells from the surface. The bronchoscope is then removed.

The specimen is sent to the laboratory and placed in culture media. It is examined daily for the presence of bacteria or other infection-causing organisms. Treatment is based on the results of the culture.

How to Prepare for the Test    Return to top

You may need to stay in the hospital for one day, or the procedure may be performed on an outpatient (same-day) basis.

You will not be able to eat or drink anything (even water) for 6-12 hours before the test. You must sign a consent form. Remove dentures or other mouth appliances before the test. You may be given a sedative.

How the Test Will Feel    Return to top

The anesthetic will make your mouth and throat feel thick as it numbs the area. The anesthetic will numb your throat, larynx (voice box), trachea (windpipe), bronchial tubes, and lungs. It will also stop the gagging sensation, but the insertion of the tube may be unpleasant.

You may have a sore throat after the procedure.

Why the Test is Performed    Return to top

A bronchoscopic culture is done to find infection in the lung that cannot be accurately detected by a sputum culture. The procedure may find evidence of infection, such as:

A bronchoscopy may also be performed for respiratory conditions other than infection, such as when cancer is suspected.

Normal Results    Return to top

No organisms are seen on the culture.

What Abnormal Results Mean    Return to top

Abnormal culture results usually indicate a respiratory infection. The infection may be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi. The results of the culture will help determine the best treatment.

Risks    Return to top

The risks of a bronchoscopic culture are the same as for a bronchoscopy procedure, and include:

You must avoid coughing and clearing your throat after the procedure, because it might dislodge a clot at the site of a biopsy.

Update Date: 11/12/2007

Updated by: Arnold L. Lentnek, M.D., Division of Infectious Disease, Kennestone Hospital, Marietta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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