Safety of diagnostic bronchoscopy in patients with pulmonary hypertension

Respiration. 2009;77(3):292-7. doi: 10.1159/000197465. Epub 2009 Jan 28.


Background: Patients with pulmonary hypertension (PH) are considered to be at risk for complications associated with flexible bronchoscopy (FB). Although previous reports suggest that transbronchial biopsies increase the risk for hemorrhage in this population, data are limited to survey analyses and isolated reports.

Objectives: It was the aim of this study to describe our experience with FB and to determine if bronchoscopic procedures are associated with adverse events in this population.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of patients with diagnosis of PH who underwent FB at the Cleveland Clinic between 2002 and 2005. Patients without PH who underwent FB by the same pulmonary physician were used as controls.

Results: A total of 90 patients, PH (n = 45) versus controls (n = 45), were included. The mean systolic pulmonary artery pressure in patients with PH was 58 +/- 7 mm Hg. Patients with PH had higher oxygen requirements at baseline (FiO(2) 0.42 vs. 0.3%; p = 0.01). The total number of procedures was similar between the groups (95 vs. 102). Procedures performed were bronchoalveolar lavage (21 vs. 13), transbronchial biopsies (24 vs. 32) and transbronchial needle aspiration (7 vs. 6). There were no hemodynamic complications or episodes of respiratory failure associated with the procedures. None of the patients had significant hemorrhage and only 2 developed mild bleeding which resolved spontaneously. Similarly, none required hospitalization or transfer to an intensive care unit.

Conclusions: FB can be performed safely in patients with mild to moderate PH. Transbronchial biopsies are not associated with worsening hypoxemia or an increased risk of hemorrhage. Prospective studies with hemodynamic measurements are necessary to confirm these findings.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bronchoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies