Endobronchial Ultrasound Bronchoscopy (EBUS)

Last Updated 05/07/2020

Authors:Loren Harris, MD, FCCP; Roy Semaan, MD; Andrew Wilhelm, DO, FCCP

About Endobronchial Ultrasound Bronchoscopy (EBUS)

Key facts about EBUS
  • EBUS bronchoscopy helps diagnose different types of lung diseases.
  • EBUS bronchoscopy uses a flexible tube with a camera called a bronchoscope to look at your windpipe and lungs.
  • A trained lung doctor, called a pulmonologist, puts the tube into your mouth.

Endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) bronchoscopy is a procedure used to diagnose different kinds of lung problems, including infections or cancer. A trained lung doctor, called a pulmonologist, performs EBUS bronchoscopy. The tool used is a flexible tube that goes into your mouth, and then into your windpipe and lungs. At the end of the tube is a small a video camera that takes pictures of your lungs and nearby areas. The pictures can help locate and evaluate places on your lung previously seen on X-rays or scans that need a closer look.

What to expect

Your provider may ask you to get a blood test before your EBUS bronchoscopy. He or she will also ask you to stop eating or drinking after midnight the day before your procedure.

On the day of your test, you will receive intravenous (IV) medication to make you comfortable during the procedure. Sometimes, these medications will put you completely to sleep. When you’re comfortable or asleep, your doctor will put the camera into your mouth to begin the EBUS bronchoscopy procedure.

With the camera, your doctor will look at your lungs and use a needle to take samples of your lung tissue. Afterwards, you may have a mild cough and a sore throat, but they will go away in a day.

EBUS bronchoscopy is an outpatient procedure, which means that you can usually go home the same day. You will need to have someone drive you home from the test.

Understanding the results

Your health care provider will send samples from your EBUS bronchoscopy to a lab, which will look at them to see if there is infection or cancer. The lab typically takes 3 to 5 days to send the results back to the provider. Your provider will call you or have you come into the office to talk about the results and any follow-up.

When Should You See Your Health Care Provider

Contact your provider if you have:

  • Sudden, unexplained shortness of breath
  • Swelling in one of your legs
  • Chest pain
  • A feeling that your heart is racing
  • A previous blood clot
  • A strong family history of DVTor PE

What are the risks?

EBUS bronchoscopy is safe, but there is a small chance of problems (complications). These complications can include:

  • Some bleeding;
  • Infection after EBUS;
  • Oxygen levels becoming low during or after EBUS; and
  • Collapsed lung.

All these problems can be fixed, but you may have to stay in the hospital overnight rather than going home that day. Remember to tell your health care provider if you have ever had trouble with anesthesia or sedation medications.

Resources

The American Lung Association recommends patients and caregivers join our Living with Lung Disease support community to connect with others facing this procedure. To talk to a trained lung professional, call the American Lung Association’s Lung Helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA. They can help answer your questions and connect you with additional support.

Questions to ask your health care provider

Making notes before your visit and taking along a trusted family member or friend can help you through the first appointment with your provider. The following are some questions to help you discuss the EBUS bronchoscopy procedure with you provider:

  • Is EBUS bronchoscopy safe?
  • Do I need to get a chest X-ray before EBUS bronchoscopy?
  • Can I get an infection after EBUS bronchoscopy?
  • What if I have trouble with anesthesia?