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Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

Overview of Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

An endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS) is a safe, effective procedure used to diagnose a variety of lung problems, such as lung cancer, lymphoma, an infection, or an inflammatory disease like sarcoidosis. At Pulmonary Associates of Mobile, we have highly trained pulmonologists who are experienced in, and routinely perform, EBUS bronchoscopy procedures.

When the EBUS is combined with ROSE pathology (Rapid On-Site Evaluation), diagnosis can be done at the time of the procedure. Rarely are complications encountered during this procedure, but if you are having any complications, please speak with your physician immediately. Once the diagnosis is given, you will need to work closely with your physician to come up with a treatment plan. This treatment plan will vary for each person.

Preparing for an Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

To prepare for your endobronchial ultrasound, ask your physician for specific instructions as they vary between patients. In some cases, you will need to have a blood test done before the procedure. You may need to fast for a few hours before the procedure as well. Your physician will review your medications with you and let you know if you need to make any changes. If you are on a blood-thinning medication, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, you may need to stop. This procedure will be an outpatient procedure, which means that you can go home on the same day, but you will need to arrange for someone to drive you home as you will be recovering from the anesthesia or other medications.

The Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

On the day of your procedure, you will receive intravenous (IV) medication to make you comfortable during the procedure. Sometimes, these medications will put you completely to sleep and will also help to open the airways. When you are comfortable or asleep, the pulmonologist will put the camera into your mouth to begin the EBUS bronchoscopy procedure.

To perform the procedure, your pulmonologist places a flexible tube into your mouth, which then goes into your windpipe and lungs. At the end of the tube is a small video camera that allows them to clearly see your airways. Also at the end of the tube is a small ultrasound probe. Your pulmonologist uses ultrasound to see structures just beside the airways, but not visible to the camera.

Your pulmonologist will use the camera and ultrasound to help locate and examine places in and around your lung that need a closer look based on x-rays or scans that were previously taken. Based on what they see during the procedure, they may also take samples of tissue using a small needle that need further evaluation. A biopsy may be taken, which is called transbronchial needle aspiration.

After the Procedure

Once the procedure is completed, you will spend some time recovering from the sedating medications before being cleared to go home. Afterward, you may have a mild cough and a sore throat, but they will typically go away in a day. If you have a reaction or any problems after you get home, please notify your physician immediately.

Understanding the Results

In most cases, ROSE pathology is done during the procedure. This allows for your pulmonologist to get real-time lab work and a diagnosis can be done during the procedure. This also allows the physician to ensure they get the results that they need before the procedure is over.

If your pulmonologist needs to send samples from your EBUS bronchoscopy to a lab, they will look at them to determine the diagnosis. A lab typically takes 3 to 5 days to send the results back to the pulmonologist. The pulmonologist’s office will call you or have you come into the office to talk about the results and any follow-up.

Once you have the results back from your physician, then you can begin with a treatment plan. Each treatment plan will vary between each person and the diagnosis that they are given. It is important to work closely with your pulmonologist on your treatment plan. If you have any problems throughout treatment, let them know immediately.

Risks of an Endobronchial Ultrasound

EBUS bronchoscopy is safe, but there is a small chance of complications. They may include:

  • Some bleeding
  • Infection after EBUS

  • Oxygen levels becoming low during or after EBUS

  • Collapsed lung

All these problems can be fixed, but you may have to stay in the hospital overnight rather than going home the same day. It is important to tell your pulmonologist if you have ever had trouble with anesthesia or sedation medications. It is rare that any of these risks will happen. This is a very minimally invasive procedure. If you are able to go home and then develop any problems, it is important to let your pulmonologist know as soon as possible.

The Benefits of EBUS

Endobronchial ultrasound has so many benefits. The procedure is done so easily and the physician is able to view hard-to-reach areas and see much smaller lymph nodes. The physician is also able to see a real-time image of the lungs, lymph nodes, blood vessels, and airways. Rapid onsite pathology allows the pathologist to be in the operating room and can examine biopsy samples to ensure the physician has everything that they need. If another sample is needed, it can be quickly and easily collected in an effort to not have to repeat the procedure in the future.

This procedure is typically very simple to go through. It is done under general anesthesia or moderate sedation, which allows patients to typically go home the same day and the recovery process is very simple. No incisions are necessary as the bronchoscope is inserted through the mouth.

Is EBUS Right for me?

If you have more questions about EBUS and are wondering if you are a candidate for EBUS, then speak with your pulmonologist. Your physician will be able to look at your health history and decide if this is best for you. Call our physicians today to discuss.