Should patients undergoing a bronchoscopy be sedated?

Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2003 Apr;47(4):411-5. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-6576.2003.00061.x.


Background: The techniques, drugs and depth of sedation for flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy is controversial, and several reports consider that the routine use of sedation is not a prerequisite. We evaluate whether the addition of sedation with propofol improves patient tolerance, compared to local anesthesic of the airway only.

Methods: Eighteen patients with pneumonia undergoing flexible fiberoptic bronchoscopy were included in a randomized, single blind, prospective controlled study. The non-sedation group received airway topical anesthesia, whereas the sedation group received topical anesthesia and intravenous sedation with propofol. The degree of pain, cough, sensation of asphyxiation, degree of amnesia, global tolerance and acceptance of another bronchoscopy in the future were noted. Changes in blood pressure, heart rate and saturation of oxygen by pulse oximetry were also evaluated.

Results: The patients in sedation group had less cough (P < 0.05), pain (P < 0.01) and sensation of asphyxiation (P < 0.001). Global tolerance to the procedure was significantly better in the group under sedation (P < 0.01). These patients had total amnesia to the procedure (P < 0.0001), thus is more probable that will accept another bronchoscopy in the future (P < 0.01). There was a significant rise in heart rate and blood pressure in the patients without sedation. There were no differences in oxygen saturation (P = 0.75).

Conclusions: Our results show that if we administer propofol for sedation, in addition to local anesthesia of the airway, the tolerance to the procedure is much better. Also it appears that sedation with propofol is safe if we carefully select and monitor the patient.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anesthesia, Local
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage
  • Blood Pressure
  • Bronchoscopy* / adverse effects
  • Conscious Sedation*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oximetry
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Propofol / administration & dosage
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Lidocaine
  • Propofol