Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates, visitor restrictions and resources →

Bronchoscopic culture

  • Definition
    • Bronchoscopic culture is a laboratory exam to check a piece of tissue or fluid from the lungs for infection-causing germs.

  • Alternative Names
    • Culture - bronchoscopic

  • How the Test is Performed
    • A procedure called bronchoscopy is used to get a sample (biopsy) of lung tissue or fluid.

      The sample is sent to a laboratory. There, it is placed in a special dish (culture). It is then watched to see if bacteria or other disease-causing germs grow. Treatment is based on the results of the culture.

  • How to Prepare for the Test
    • Follow your health care provider's instructions on how to prepare for bronchoscopy.

  • How the Test will Feel
    • Your provider will tell you what to expect during bronchoscopy.

  • Why the Test is Performed
    • A bronchoscopic culture is done to find infection in the lung that cannot be accurately detected by a sputum culture. The procedure may find the following things, such as:

      • Abnormal secretions
      • Abnormal lung tissue
      • Inflammation
      • Obstructive lesions, such as cancer or foreign bodies
  • Normal Results
    • No organisms are seen on the culture.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean
    • Abnormal culture results usually indicate a respiratory infection. The infection may be caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, mycobacteria, or fungi. The results of the culture will help determine the best treatment.

      Not all organisms found with bronchoscopic culture need to be treated. Your provider will tell you more about this if needed.

  • Risks
    • Your provider can discuss the risks of the bronchoscopy procedure with you.

  • References
    • Kupeli E, Feller-Kopman D, Mehta AC. Diagnostic bronchoscopy. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 22.

      Yung RC, Flint PW. Tracheobronchial endoscopy. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 72.