Endobronchial Ultrasound


If you have chest pain, chronic cough or trouble breathing, you may need tests to see if you have a lung disease.

Lung biopsies and other diagnostic tests used to be quite invasive. When doctors wanted to look in the chest cavity or take a tissue sample, they often had to perform surgery.

Today, doctors can see inside your lungs and perform biopsies without surgical incisions. Mercy offers eligible patients an advanced test called endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS). It combines a procedure called bronchoscopy with ultrasound imaging.

Like traditional bronchoscopy, EBUS is a minimally invasive procedure. 

Your doctor inserts a thin, hollow tube (bronchoscope) into your mouth, then guides it down your throat and into your lungs. The lighted bronchoscope is attached to a tiny camera. This gives your doctor a close-up view inside your chest.

With EBUS, the endoscope is also attached to an ultrasound device. It uses sound waves to capture images of the chest. It can take detailed pictures of your lungs, mediastinum, pleural cavity and lymph nodes.

During EBUS, your doctor can also perform a biopsy to remove a small tissue sample that will be examined in a lab.

What is EBUS Used For?

EBUS can diagnose most lung disorders, including:

  • Lung cancer, including non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. It can also detect cancer that has spread to the lungs from elsewhere in the body (lung metastases).
  • Collapsed lung
  • Infections
  • Inflammatory conditions including sarcoidosis
  • Pleural effusion
  • Pulmonary nodules
  • Tracheal or bronchial stenosis

Benefits of Endobronchial Ultrasound

EBUS offers advantages over other procedures that diagnose lung disease, such as mediastinoscopy. These include:

  • Less risk of complications, including infection and collapsed lung.
  • EBUS lets your doctor biopsy, diagnose and stage lung cancer all at once. This eliminates the need for separate procedures, with their own risk of complications.
  • Your doctor can take several tissue samples from the lungs and lymph nodes in a single procedure. If you have lung cancer, your tissue may be tested to see if it contains gene mutations or special proteins. Depending on the genetic make-up of your tumor, you may be eligible for newer treatments such as targeted therapy.

What to Expect During an Endobronchial Ultrasound

Your Mercy care team will make sure you understand what to expect before, during and after your test. For example:

  • EBUS is an outpatient procedure. Most patients return home the same day.
  • You’ll need to fast before your appointment.
  • You’ll receive medicine to keep you comfortable, or asleep, during the procedure.
  • EBUS is generally safe, with few complications. But like any medical procedure, there are risks. These include bleeding from the biopsy, infection and reduced oxygen levels during or after your test.

It’s natural to feel nervous before having a medical procedure. And waiting for results can cause extra anxiety. But you can take comfort knowing we have experience diagnosing and treating even the most challenging lung disorders. No matter what your test results show, you’ll find the medical care and emotional support you need at Mercy.

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