Safety of bronchoalveolar lavage and bronchial biopsies in patients with asthma of variable severity

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1992 Jul;146(1):116-21. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/146.1.116.


The safety of fiberoptic bronchoscopy, bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL), and bronchial biopsies has been questioned in asthma, and current recommendations indicate that bronchoscopies should only be performed in mild to moderate asthma. Moreover, in most studies patients receive premedication with nebulized bronchodilators that may enhance the safety of the procedures. The purpose of this study was to determine (1) whether the overall safety of fiberoptic bronchoscopy, BAL, and bronchial biopsies in mild to moderate asthma could be extended to patients with more severe asthma and (2) whether these procedures are safe without premedication with nebulized bronchodilators. A group of 50 patients with asthma of variable severity (FEV1 ranging from 37 to 107% of predicted values) and 25 healthy volunteers were studied. Bronchoscopy, BAL (250 ml), and four bronchial biopsies were performed in a standardized manner, without premedication with a nebulized bronchodilator, by the same investigator. Safety was assessed by clinical follow-up, continuous recording of arterial oxygen saturation during the procedure with a digital oximeter, and measuring FEV1, FEF25-75, and FVC just before and 5 min after bronchoscopy. Arterial oxygen saturation decreased in asthmatic patients from 97% (range 91 to 99%) (T1) to 92% (range 79 to 98%) (T8) (ANOVA, Fisher's PLSD) and in control subjects from 97% (range 94 to 99%) (T1) to 93% (range 88 to 98%) (T8) (ANOVA, Fisher's PLSD). The fall in arterial oxygen saturation was not significantly different between asthmatic and normal subjects, and there was no correlation between arterial oxygen desaturation and the severity of asthma.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asthma / blood
  • Asthma / pathology
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Biopsy, Needle / adverse effects*
  • Bronchi / pathology*
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid*
  • Bronchoscopy / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Respiratory Mechanics


  • Oxygen