The safety of bronchoscopy in a pulmonary fellowship program

Chest. 2006 Oct;130(4):1185-90. doi: 10.1378/chest.130.4.1185.


Study objective: To determine the complication rate from supervised training bronchoscopy in a single pulmonary fellowship program, and to examine the effects of fellow and faculty experience on this complication rate.

Design: A retrospective review of preexisting quality improvement data from one center for the time period July 1, 1991, until June 30, 2005, was performed. The data were stratified based on the fellow year group and the staff experience level. The types of complications were recorded.

Setting: The study was performed at an accredited pulmonary and critical care fellowship program at a military medical center in the United States.

Participants: Fifty-one pulmonary and critical care medicine fellows and 20 staff supervising physicians performed the bronchoscopies that were included in this study.

Results: A total of 3,538 training bronchoscopies were performed during the study period with 73 complications for a complication rate of 2.06%. The most common complication was pneumothorax. The overall complication rates for first-year fellows (1stYFs), second-year fellows, and third-year fellows were not significantly different from the total complication rate. Training bronchoscopies supervised by junior staff had a complication rate not significantly different from that of senior staff. The cumulative complication rate for the first trimester for 1stYFs was 3.1%, whereas the cumulative complication rate for the second plus the third trimester for 1stYFs was 1.57% (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Training bronchoscopy performed during a pulmonary fellowship is a safe procedure in a supervised setting. Patients undergoing bronchoscopy performed by novice bronchoscopists have an increased complication rate during the first trimester of bronchoscopist training.

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Bronchoscopy / standards
  • Faculty, Medical / standards
  • Fellowships and Scholarships* / standards
  • Hospitals, Military
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Organization and Administration* / standards
  • Pneumothorax / epidemiology*
  • Pneumothorax / etiology
  • Pulmonary Medicine / education*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / standards
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Safety* / standards