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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 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 organisms 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 health care 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
  • 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.

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


Your health care provider can discuss the risks of the bronchoscopy procedure with you.

Alternative Names

Culture - bronchoscopic


Croft AC, Woods GL. Specimen collection and handling for diagnosis of infectious diseases. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 63.

Kupeli E, Karnak D, Mehta AC. Flexible bronchoscopy. In: Mason RJ, Murray JF, Broaddus VC, et al., eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 22.

Update Date 12/3/2013

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