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Bronchoscopic culture
Bronchoscopic culture


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

Alternative Names:

Culture - bronchoscopic

How the test is performed:

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:

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:

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:

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 Values:

No organisms are seen on the culture.

What abnormal results mean:

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.

What the risks are:

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

  • Bleeding
  • Hole (perforation) of the bronchus or trachea
  • Infection
  • Pneumothorax

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

Review Date: 11/12/2007
Reviewed By: Arnold L. Lentnek, M.D., Division of Infectious Disease, Kennestone Hospital, Marietta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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