Complications of bronchoscopy: A concise synopsis

Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci. Jul-Sep 2015;5(3):189-95. doi: 10.4103/2229-5151.164995.


Flexible and rigid bronchoscopes are used in diagnosis, therapeutics, and palliation. While their use is widespread, effective, and generally safe; there are numerous potential complications that can occur. Mechanical complications of bronchoscopy are primarily related to airway manipulations or bleeding. Systemic complications arise from the procedure itself, medication administration (primarily sedation), or patient comorbidities. Attributable mortality rates remain low at < 0.1% for fiberoptic and rigid bronchoscopy. Here we review the complications (classified as mechanical or systemic) of both rigid and flexible bronchoscopy in hope of making practitioners who are operators of these tools, and those who consult others for interventions, aware of potential problems, and pitfalls in order to enhance patient safety and comfort.

Keywords: Bronchoscopy; complications; endoscopy; intensive care.