Blood loss during flexible bronchoscopy: a prospective observational study

Respiration. 2012;84(4):312-8. doi: 10.1159/000339507. Epub 2012 Aug 9.


Background: Haemorrhage remains a complication of flexible bronchoscopy.

Objectives: We aimed to measure the actual blood loss in patients at low risk of bleeding and to assess its association with the underlying pulmonary pathology, superior vena cava (SVC) syndrome, procedure(s) performed and laboratory values.

Methods: We screened all patients scheduled for flexible bronchoscopy and enrolled 234 subjects over 18 months. Subjects with a history of haemorrhagic tendency, platelets <20 × 10(3)/µl, a history of anti-coagulation or anti-platelet therapy and a history or clinical evidence of liver failure were excluded. Blood loss during the procedure was measured from aspirated secretions with a haemoglobin detector and categorised into minimal (<5 ml), mild (5-20 ml), moderate (20-100 ml) and severe bleeding (>100 ml).

Results: Overall, 210 subjects had minimal, 19 had mild and 5 had moderate bleeding. No subject experienced severe blood loss. Patients with SVC syndrome had the highest mean blood loss (6.0 ml) when compared to bronchogenic carcinoma without SVC syndrome (p = 0.033) and other diagnosis (p = 0.026). The blood loss with trans-bronchial needle aspiration (TBNA, mean 3.4 ml) was significantly less than with TBNA combined with endobronchial or transbronchial biopsy (mean 5.0 ml, p < 0.001). Anaemia, a platelet count of 25-155 × 10(3)/µl and an international normalized ratio of >1.3 were not associated with an increased risk of bleeding.

Conclusions: We found no severe bleeding in this cohort preselected to have a low clinical risk of bleeding. Moreover, our data suggest that clinical screening and a platelet count ≥20 × 10(3)/µl alone may be sufficient to identify low-risk patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Loss, Surgical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Bronchoscopy / adverse effects*
  • Bronchoscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / complications
  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Superior Vena Cava Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Superior Vena Cava Syndrome / etiology