Diseases & Conditions

BAL - Bronchoscopy with Lavage


Overview & Description

A bronchoscopy with lavage is a test done with a thin, flexible fiber-optic tube called a bronchoscope. The tube is inserted through the nose or mouth into the lung. Lavage is the term for washing out the lungs with saline fluid. In addition, a tissue sample can be removed for study, or biopsied, if necessary.

Who is a candidate for the test?

This test is performed when lung disease, a tumor, or an obstruction are suspected.

How is the test performed?

With the person relaxed and lying down on a table or bed, a local anesthetic is sprayed into the throat and a mild sedative is given. When the throat is numb, the bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth into the bronchi, or large airways in the lungs. Once the tube is in the lung, a small amount of fluid is sprayed into the lung. The fluid is then removed and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Respiratory tissues can then be observed and biopsied.


Preparation & Expectations

What is involved in preparation for the test?

Specific instructions will be provided by the healthcare provider.


Results and Values

What do the test results mean?

Results are normal when the air passages and the lavage show no abnormalities. Results are abnormal when the bronchoscope reveals diseases of the lungs, or the washings show the presence of cancer cells.


Attribution

Author:David T. Moran, MD
Date Written:
Editor:Duff, Ellen, BA
Edit Date:03/27/00
Reviewer:Adam Brochert, MD
Date Reviewed:09/04/01