Bronchoscopy for the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer

Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2008 Jun;29(3):261-70. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1076746.


Bronchoscopy is an invaluable tool utilized for the diagnosis, staging, and management of lung cancer. Advancements in computer technology and engineering have allowed for the emergence of newer modalities to evaluate endobronchial, parenchymal, and mediastinal pathology. Established techniques such as white light video bronchoscopy and its ancillary procedures (forceps biopsy, brush biopsy, bronchoalveolar lavage, bronchial washings, and transbronchial needle aspiration) are discussed here, with their accuracy described in relation to tumor location, size, and type. Newer technologies such as autofluorescence bronchoscopy, narrow band imaging, endoscopic ultrasound, endobronchial ultrasound, electromagnetic navigation, optical coherence tomography, and confocal fluorescent laser microscopy are introduced and put into perspective. Special emphasis has been placed on their role in the early detection and staging of lung cancer. Some technology requires further study to delineate its role in the disease, whereas other modalities are emerging as the new gold standard in evaluation of lung cancer. The future holds great promise with further miniaturization of equipment and improvements in computer processing power that may allow for in vivo pathological evaluation of abnormal tissue.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Needle / methods
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage / methods
  • Bronchoscopy / methods*
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena / methods
  • Endosonography / methods
  • Fluoroscopy / methods
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Predictive Value of Tests