Bronchoscopy is an exam of the airways and lungs. The exam is done with a bronchoscope, a long, thin tube with a camera on the tip. The tube may be flexible or rigid.

Respiratory Pathway
Resp pathway with sinus
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Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Irritation of the airways or vocal cords
  • Damage to the airways or lungs
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Infection
  • Hpoxemia—damage to tissue from low oxygen
  • Heart attack

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity



This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.


American Lung Association 

American Thoracic Society 


Health Canada 

The Lung Association 


Bronchoscopy. Merck Manual website, Professional Edition. Available at: Accessed February 16, 2021.

Diaz-Mendoza J, Peralta AR, et al. Rigid bronchoscopy. Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2018;39(6):674-684.

Explore bronchoscopy. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Updated Accessed February 16, 2021.

Flexible Airway Endoscopy in Children. American Thoracic Society website. Available at: Accessed February 16, 2021.

Lung cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed February 16, 2021.