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This is a technique that is used in conjunction with a fibreoptic bronchoscopy to help locate any areas of suspicious tissue in the airways. You will first have a bronchoscopy and then an ultrasound transducer will be passed down the bronchoscope so that images can be taken from within the airways. If anything looks abnormal, the investigator can use instruments to take a sample of tissue that can be sent to the lab for further tests.

What to expect during an endobronchial ultrasound

  • An endobronchial ultrasound is usually done as an outpatient procedure and you can choose whether to have sedation. If you do, you will be awake during the procedure and will be able to respond to instructions, but you will probably remember very little afterwards and you will recover quickly.
  • A local anaesthetic is used to numb the back of your throat, but expect it to feel a bit sore afterwards.
  • A pulse oximeter on your finger will show your blood oxygen level throughout the test and you can be given oxygen through your nostril if necessary.
  • Although the endobronchial ultrasound will only take about 30 minutes, your preparation, sedative and recovery will take three to four hours and you will need to be accompanied home afterwards. You should try not to eat or drink for at least two hours afterwards, until the throat anaesthetic has worn off.

Why would I need an endobronchial ultrasound?

Endobronchial ultrasound is used to diagnose sarcoidosis, a treatable lung condition, and to detect infections such as tuberculosis. This technique is also usually used to diagnose and stage lung cancer. It is less invasive than other methods, and can provide information that will help your consultant and the team treating you decide on the best options for therapy. Detecting the position and extent of a tumour can mean that no unnecessary tissue is removed during surgery for lung cancer.

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