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Bronchoscopic culture

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

How the Test is Performed

A sample of lung tissue is needed. For information on how that sample is obtained, see: Bronchoscopy

The sample is sent to a laboratory, and placed in a special dish (culture media) that allows bacteria, fungi, mycobacteria, or viruses to grow. The sample is placed under a microscope and examined daily for the presence of bacteria or other infection-causing organisms. Treatment is based on the results of the culture.

How to Prepare for the Test

This article discusses the culture test. For information on preparing for the procedure to take the tissue sample, see: Bronchoscopy

How the Test Will Feel

See: 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 evidence of infection, such as:

  • Abnormal secretions
  • Abscesses
  • 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.

Risks

There are no risks involved with the laboratory culture. For risks involved with the bronchoscopy procedure, see: Bronchoscopy

Alternative Names

Culture - bronchoscopic

References

Torres A, Menéndez R, Wunderlink R. Pyogenic bacterial pneumonia and lung abscess. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus VC, Martin TR, et al. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010;chap 32.

Update Date: 12/12/2011

Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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