Emergency Bronchoscopy

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A retrospective analysis was performed to study the efficacy and safety of bronchoscopy in emergency patients. Of the 577 emergency patients, 172 (29.8%) underwent a total of 191 emergency bronchoscopies for diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes. The patients ranged in age from 4 days to 89 years (average, 39.8 years), and included 33 neonates and infants (< 2 years). Major indications for emergency bronchoscopy were atelectasis/airway mucus retention, adult respiratory distress syndrome or pulmonary edema, airway stenosis, pneumonia/empyema, airway bleeding, obstruction of the airway by a foreign body or aspiration, difficulty with intubation, and airway anomaly. Nineteen patients with life-threatening respiratory crises were saved as a direct result of the bronchoscopic procedures. In 72 of the 172 emergency patients (41.9%), bronchoscopy provided definitive diagnoses where other diagnostic modalities failed. Severe hypoxia and bradycardia during bronchoscopy were observed in two patients, but no deaths or serious complications were induced by bronchoscopic procedures. We conclude that bronchoscopy is indispensable for the management of emergency patients because of its life-saving and diagnostic effectiveness and is safe to perform even in high-risk situations.

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