Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)

Endobronchial Ultrasound

Sometimes we need to take a look inside our body but cutting it open is too invasive or not possible. Science has come a long way with imaging studies such as x-rays, computed tomography scans (CT-scans), and ultrasounds. These offer a look inside our bodies with startling accuracy, especially when paired with other procedures. 

What is an Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)?

Breathing is a natural, involuntary process that is necessary for life. When you breathe, air goes down your trachea or windpipe, into your bronchi which leads into your lungs, entering into the bronchioles, and then the alveoli where gaseous exchange takes place with the blood vessels. There are some lung conditions that can affect this intricate process, and these can be identified using a range of diagnostic techniques such as a bronchoscopy, spirometry, and an endobronchial ultrasound.

An endobronchial ultrasound is a minimally invasive procedure that allows your respiratory specialist to have a look inside your bronchi. It is used to diagnose a variety of lung conditions caused by cancer, inflammation, and infections. A long, thin tube, also known as a bronchoscope, with a light, camera, and an ultrasound probe attached at one end is inserted into your nose or mouth and gently guided down your trachea (windpipe) and into the lower respiratory tract. The addition of the ultrasound probe allows your respiratory specialist to have a view of your lungs and neighbouring lymph nodes to check for any abnormalities.

How does an Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) work?

  • An anaesthesia will be administered intravenously to help you relax and remove any discomfort you may feel. 
  • A numbing medicine is sprayed onto the back of your throat.
  • The bronchoscope is slowly and gently inserted into your nose or mouth and guided down your trachea (windpipe) and into your lower respiratory tract.
  • While the endobronchial ultrasound is in your respiratory tract, the image is projected onto a monitor so your doctor can identify any signs of abnormalities. 
  • If any abnormalities are spotted, a biopsy needle (from the endobronchial ultrasound) will be used to remove samples which are then sent for a biopsy.
  • The bronchoscope will slowly be removed after the procedure

If samples were taken for a biopsy, your doctor will inform you and your results will be ready in a few days.

What happens after an EBUS?

You may feel a bit groggy after the procedure, so you will be monitored for a few hours to ensure that you recover well. A chest x-ray might be performed after the procedure to ensure that no damage was done to your lungs.

Your throat might still feel numb from the numbing medicine so you will not be allowed to eat or drink until you recover. Your respiratory specialist will advise you on when you may return to your normal activities and diet. 

Who needs an Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)?

An endobronchial ultrasound is most often used for the following:

  • staging of lung cancer
  • diagnostic tool for tuberculosis, sarcoidosis
  • diagnosing and treating cardiac disease
  • draining cysts 

How do I prepare for an Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) in Singapore?

Before the procedure, you must avoid eating and drinking for 6 hours and you may be required to stop certain medications such as blood thinners and aspirin. Either a sedative or general anaesthesia will be used during the procedure, depending on your preference and advice of your respiratory specialist. 

What are the benefits of an Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)?

  • Outpatient procedure
  • Minimally invasive
  • Able to diagnose a variety of diseases

What are the common possible complications or risks of an Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS) in Singapore?

Like all medical procedures, there are a few risks involved, these are:

  • Adverse reaction to anaesthesia
  • Bleeding
  • Infections
  • Pneumothorax (collapsed lungs)

Frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a bronchoscopy and an endobronchial ultrasound?

A bronchoscopy is a long and thin tube that has a camera and light attached whereas an endobronchial ultrasound is a bronchoscope with the attachment of an ultrasound scope in addition to the light and camera.

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