An endobronchial ultrasound is a medical procedure that may be performed during a bronchoscopy, to provide further information to diagnose or determine the stage of a lung cancer. This relatively new technique allows doctors to view regions of your lungs and surrounding chest area that have traditionally required more invasive surgical procedures to evaluate.
The procedure is usually performed as an outpatient procedure or a same day surgery and is considered a minimally invasive procedure.
What Happens During an Endobronchial Ultrasound?
An endobronchial ultrasound is usually performed under "procedural anesthesia" meaning that you will be very sleepy and won't feel uncomfortable, but will not be as deeply asleep as you would be with a general anesthetic. The procedure can, however, be done with a general anesthetic if needed.
Prior to doing an endobronchial ultrasound, your doctor will first do a bronchoscopy. In a bronchoscopy procedure, a tube is inserted through your mouth or nose into your trachea (your windpipe) and then into the large airways leading into your lungs. After the tube is in place, doctors then use a special ultrasound probe to send sound waves (ultrasound) through the walls of your airways into the surrounding areas, including the lungs and mediastinum (the area of the chest that lies between the lungs).
If abnormal areas are seen on the ultrasound, your doctor can then take a sample of tissue with a small needle guided by the ultrasound.