Endobronchial Ultrasound

Endobronchial ultrasound is an innovative, relatively new procedure used to diagnose lung infection and diseases that cause enlarged chest lymph nodes, and determine if and how far lung cancer has spread.

During this procedure, your pulmonologist uses a technique called transbronchial needle aspiration to obtain tissue or fluid samples from your lungs and lymph nodes.  These samples are used to diagnose and decide treatment for lung cancers, infections and inflammatory diseases.


What Happens During an Endobronchial Ultrasound?

Conventional diagnostic procedure for many lung diseases uses invasive surgery to diagnose.  However, endobronchial ultrasounds diagnose lung diseases at the same success rate - without surgery.  This procedure is safe and painless, and requires little recovery time.

To preform an Endobronchial Ultrasound, your doctor will first preform a bronchoscopy.

Next, after the bronchoscope has been inserted into your body, your pulmonologist will use a special ultrasound probe to send sound waves through the walls of your airways and into your lungs and chest.  The ultrasound will reveal images that are shown to your pulmonologist on a video screen.  If he or she sees abnormal areas on the ultrasound, your doctor can use transbronchial needle aspiration to remove a sample for testing.

The bronchoscopy should take no more than an hour, however, the entire set up and post procedure time will take about 4 hours.  In some instances, we may wish you to remain in the Department for observation, or in rare cases, be admitted to the hospital overnight.

Above: biopsy of a lymph node through the wall of a bronchi using transbronchial needle aspiration
Above: biopsy of a lymph node through the wall of a bronchi using transbronchial needle aspiration

What is Transbronchial Needle spiration?

During transbronchial needle aspiration, a needle is passed through the bronchoscope to its tip, and is then used to remove a small sample of unusual tissue or fluid for lab diagnosis. This is a painless, safe procedure.


How Do I Prepare?

Patients are required to eat and drink nothing after midnight the night before their procedure. If you take insulin or regular essential oral medications, your pulmonologist will give you special instructions to follow, which ensure your health and the best results of the bronchoscopy.

If you are allergic to any sedatives or other medications, please notify your doctor before the procedure takes place.

Since you are given sedation, you must be driven home following your procedure; please arrange for a ride. You also cannot eat or drink anything until the numbness in your throat wears off, which usually takes one to two hours.

What Are the Risks?

An endobronchial ultrasound is a safe and painless procedure.
For the first few days following your procedure, you may experience a sore throat, cough, muscle aches or hoarseness. More serious side effects are uncommon.  However, if you experience chest pains, develop a fever, have difficulty breathing, or cough up more than a few tablespoons of blood, contact your pulmonologist immediately.



More Information on Endobronchial Ultrasound

General overview of endobronchial ultrasound and its advantage over conventional diagnostic procedure, by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Detailed overview of what a patient can expect from an endobronchial ultrasound with transbronchial needle aspiration.

We wish you good luck with your test! If you have any other questions, feel free to call our office at 203.759.3666