Incidence of complications in bronchoscopy. Multicentre prospective study of 20,986 bronchoscopies

Monaldi Arch Chest Dis. 2009 Mar;71(1):8-14. doi: 10.4081/monaldi.2009.370.


Aim: To evaluate the frequency of complications in bronchoscopy from data compiled between 1/2/2002 to 1/2/2003.

Materials and methods: Nineteen Italian centres of thoracic endoscopy participated in the study, for a total of 20,986 bronchoscopies (FBS), including 10,658 explorative bronchoscopies (EB) (50.79%), 5,520 bronchial biopsies (BB) (26.30%), 1,660 transbronchial biopsies (TBB) (7.91%), 1,127 broncho-alveolar lavages (BAL) (5.37%), 930 transbronchial needle-aspirates (TBNA) (4.43%), 1.091 therapeutic bronchoscopies (TB), comprising ND-YAG Laser, argon-plasma, electrocautery knife, stent insertion (5.20%). 82.4% of the procedures involved the use of a flexible bronchoscope, 16.3% were carried out using a rigid bronchoscope and 1.3% using the mixed technique.

Results: The total number of complications recorded was 227 (1.08% of the cases examined), including 20 (0.09%) during local anesthesia and pre-medication, 195 (0.92%) during the endoscopic procedures and 12 (0.05%) in the two hours following FBS. The total number of deaths was 4 (0.02%), due to cardiac arrest, pulmonary edema, delayed respiratory failure and shock in pre-medication, respectively. 68.28% of the complications were treated medically, 25.99% by means of endoscopy and 5.72% with surgery. The healing percentage was 98.2%.

Conclusions: This study has shown that bronchoscopy is a safe method with low incidence of mortality and complications. The preparation, experience and continuous training of the operators of the medical and nursing team seem to play a fundamental role in reducing the incidence of complications at least in certain procedures such as BB and TBB.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Bronchoscopy / methods
  • Bronchoscopy / mortality
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies