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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. 

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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. 

Bronchoscopy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

7 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

periodic coughing and retching

I adopted Evan knowing he has chronic bronchitis and has periodic rounds where he coughs a good bit and retches. Sometimes mucus comes up so we go through a cycle of antibiotics and pred. Last month we did an Xray and it appeared to be pneumonia so he was treated on meds. then two weeks later, the Xray did not appear to be better. So another round of meds and then I was referred to an oncologist. They did a CT scan and aspirate - radiology thinks its a tumor but the cytology came back with normal cells - he is now referred to as an "anomoly". Now they want to do a lavage procedure. Could this just be damage in his lung due to having chronic bronchitis? It is only on the left side. He has no other symptoms - he eats great, plays until he has to take a break to catch his breath and then continues chasing my other dogs. He is a calm happy dog - I fear I'm putting him through all of this for no reason. Any suggestions?

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Labrador Retriever
7 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms


Medication Used

lung de-wormer

My 7 year old black lab mix has had a cough for 8 weeks. The cough alternates between 2-7 day periods of being deeper and more frequent and periods of lighter, less frequent coughs where they mostly happen when he gets excited or when he first gets up in the morning. There are more days of lighter/less frequent coughing in the last couple weeks than in the beginning (outwardly minor improvement). He sometimes retches or hacks after a coughing series. This sometimes produces a small amount of white mucus. He very occasionally "reverse sneezes." He has no nasal discharge, no vomiting, normal bowel movements, normal energy levels/behavior, and eats/drinks normally. My vet said his heart sounded normal. His throat x-rays came back normal. His lung x-rays showed small dots in his lungs. The vet said these were indicative of an infection. We have tried three different full courses of antibiotics, prednisone, and a lung worm treatment. None of these had clear affects on his cough. The vet has recommended a bronchoscopy and perhaps a lavage.
My questions:
1) If this is not an infection/allergy/asthma, what might it be?...
2) Given that he is overall doing better than he was 8 weeks ago, would it be a significant risk to hold off on the bronchoscopy and see what happens in the next few weeks?...
2) If it is an infection/allergy, then there are some options:
A) it is viral and we cannot do anything but wait.
B) It is allergy or asthma - the super treatment would be prednisone and that didnt help.
C) It is bacterial. The bronchoscopy would diagnose this. But, can we bypass the bronschoscopy and treat with some sort of nuclear antibiotic option with an extended treatment? Are these treatments dangerous/risky?.
D) It is parasitic. This option was identified as least likely, but we treated with the lung worm treatment anyways, and it didn't help. Are there other parasite candidates that would fit the bill that we can treat for? Are these treatments dangerous/risky?
E) Fungal infection? This hasn't come up with our vet. Is this a plausible option? What are the treatments if so. Are these treatments dangerous/risky?

I basically want to know if there are other experimental treatment options that we could safely try before resorting to the bronchoscopy?

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2 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Bronchoscopy needed

I am curious about the type of equipment used for a bronchoscopy.

Is the camera reusable, and if so, is it sterile when used?
What if something breaks on the camera?
Are the results conclusive with the bronchoscopy?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
A bronchoscope (like any form of endoscope) is reusable and is washed, flushed and sterilised between uses; the camera is not in the part of the bronchoscope that enters the body but in the handle with fibre optics taking the image to the camera (as well as fibre optics taking light to the end of the bronchoscope), in fact a standard bronchoscope doesn’t come with a camera instead it has an eyepiece for the Veterinarian to view and a camera may be attached there for recording. There are working channels for suction, air, water, biopsy tools etc… Bronchoscopy is great because we can visualise the condition (tumour, foreign object, defect etc…) and if necessary take a sample for histopathology without having to perform surgery. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

I have a yorkie who is 12 years old, he has been checked from head to toe and there is no heart disease or trachea collaspe. He has always had allergies since being little. He has began to cough and will act like something is in his throat and he is trying to get it up. he also will sneeze and lick his paws. He drinks well and eats well.his eyes will water. I think this is allergies. The vet stated he has a high sterum in the chestbone that was inherited, this may be the reason. any thoughts

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
The paw licking, sneezing and eye watering sounds more like allergies than anything else; however, the cough may be caused by a deformity of the sternum but we would normally see coughing from a much younger age (like from a puppy). It is difficult to say what the specific cause of the coughing is without examining Jasper, but further investigation is required; cough suppressants may be useful but would need to be discussed with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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