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Who Needs Bronchoscopy?

Your doctor may recommend bronchoscopy if you have an abnormal chest x ray or chest CT scan. These tests may show a tumor, a pneumothorax (collapsed lung), or signs of an infection.

A chest x ray creates a picture of the structures in your chest, such as your heart and lungs. A chest CT scan uses special x rays to create detailed pictures of the structures in your chest.

Other reasons for needing bronchoscopy include coughing up blood or having a cough that lasts more than a few weeks.

Sometimes doctors use bronchoscopy to treat lung problems. For example, the procedure might be used to:

  • Remove something that's stuck in an airway (like a piece of food).
  • Place medicine in a lung to treat a lung problem.
  • Insert a stent (small tube) in an airway to hold it open. A stent might be used if a tumor or other condition blocks an airway.

Doctors also can use bronchoscopy to check for swelling in the upper airways and vocal cords of people who were burned around the throat area or who inhaled smoke from a fire.

In children, the procedure most often is used to remove an object blocking an airway. 

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Bronchoscopy Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Bronchoscopy, visit

February 08, 2012 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.