CUH Logo

Mobile menu open

Bronchoscopy - Parent Information

Patient information A-Z

What is a bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy is a way of looking inside your child's large airways (trachea and bronchi). These are the main tubes which take air to the lungs. A fibre-optic bronchoscope is usually used – this is a thin flexible tube connected to a TV monitor. The doctor will take some samples of any mucus or other secretions found in the airways to send to laboratories for analysis.

The bronchoscope is passed through the mouth and down the back of the throat into the windpipe (trachea) and down into different parts of the lungs (the smaller airways – bronchi and bronchioles). The bronchoscope has a light which shines to allow the doctor to have a clear view of the airways. Sometimes it is also possible to take pictures. Children are always given a general anaesthetic for this procedure.

Why does my child need a bronchoscopy?

It is useful to be able to look at your child’s airways to help diagnose some conditions of the airways as well as to obtain samples of mucus, which can help our management of certain respiratory problems.

Diagram of a person lying on their back with a fibre-optic bronchoscope entering through their mouth and in to their lung
Flexible fibre-optic bronchoscopy

What does it involve?

This is often done as a day case. You will be advised of starving times before the date of your procedure. Your child will be given a general anaesthetic for the procedure and therefore will not be aware of the procedure, which takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

Are there any side-effects?

Your child's throat may be a little sore for a few days. They may also be a little tired or sleepy due to the anaesthetic, for the first day. Your nurse will be able to advise you as to how soon your child can start to eat and drink. Children often have a temperature following this procedure for which they can have paracetamol or ibuprofen. You should seek help if the temperature or sore throat is not alleviated by the paracetamol or ibuprofen.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151