What is Bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy is a diagnostic procedure involving the use of a flexible endoscope to examine the inside of the trachea and lower airways of a canine. General anesthesia is required to perform this procedure, but it is a minimally invasive way to investigate tracheal or lung disease. No external incisions are required and some dogs can return home the day of the procedure. Bronchoscopy is performed by a licensed and trained veterinarian with appropriate equipment. 

Book First Walk Free!

Bronchoscopy Procedure in Dogs

Prior to conducting the procedure, the veterinarian will perform a physical examination and a routine health check to ensure the dog is in adequate state to undergo the procedure. Common test completed include blood analysis, blood chemistry profile, complete blood cell count and a urinalysis. Radiographs of the dog’s chest will likely be taken to detect the location of the problem. 

The canine will be given a pre-anesthetic injection prior to conducting the surgery. Once the dog is asleep, an endotracheal tube will be run down the trachea (windpipe) to provide the canine with general anesthesia. Small dogs, less than 15 pounds, will have intravenous anesthetic drugs administered to maintain a state of anesthesia. The flexible endoscope will be run from the canine’s mouth down into the airways where the veterinarian will evaluate the portions of the lungs. No external incisions are required. The internist will locate the area to perform what is called a bronchoalveolar lavage or wash. A small amount of fluid will be administered and the aspirated for cell analysis, or a fluid culture. This portion of the procedure involves inserting a sterile, flexible tube down the patient’s mouth and upper airways. A second tube is passed through the primary tube and down into the lung’s airways, where a small portion of saline solution will be admitted. The saline solution will mix with microscopic material found in the trachea and so, when the fluid is aspirated with a syringe, any infectious material will be brought up with the administered fluids. Once the fluids are collected, the dog will be removed from gas anesthetic and oxygen supplement therapy for recovery. 

Efficacy of Bronchoscopy in Dogs

Bronchoscopy in dogs is an effective way for veterinary experts to investigate tracheal or lung disease. The veterinarian can see any problems from inside the lower airways and culture the cells to detect illnesses that can’t be seen. 

Bronchoscopy Recovery in Dogs

Following the surgical procedure the canine may be allowed to return home the same day as the procedure or the following day, depending on the veterinarian’s recommendations. As fluid is injected into the lungs, the dog’s body reacts by coughing to remove the fluids, so coughing is to be expected. Slight irritation is to be expected and will resolve on its own within a few minutes to an hour. The results of the bronchoscopy will be available one to two weeks after the procedure at which time the veterinarian will want to set a follow-up appointment to start a treatment plan. 

Cost of Bronchoscopy in Dogs

The cost to have a bronchoscopy diagnostic procedure completed in a canine can cost the pet owner $1,600 to $1,700. This total cost includes the bronchoscopy, fluid analysis, cultures, anesthesia, imaging, blood work, and pre-examination. 

Dog Bronchoscopy Considerations

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that requires dogs to be placed under general anesthesia, which is a concern for some patients. Dogs of old age, who are pregnant, or are critically ill are at higher risk of complications from undergoing anesthesia. 

Bronchoscopy Prevention in Dogs

The need for a canine bronchoscopy cannot always be prevented. Conditions such as asthma, tracheal collapse, and cancer can affect dogs for idiopathic (unknown) reasons. Pneumonia can be prevented by practicing proper at-home canine care and follow up with your veterinarian on a routine basis for health checks.