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What is Endobronchial Ultrasound (EBUS)?

EBUS or endobronchial ultrasound is a modern form of bronchoscopy using a special combined EBUS and video bronchoscope which is a long flexible tube, about the width of a pencil with a miniature ultrasound scanner and camera at the tip. This allows the doctors to see both the breathing tubes using the camera and beyond the breathing tubes at the adjacent tissue using the ultrasound. This will allow the lymph nodes lying next to the breathing tubes to be visualised. A needle can be passed through the scope and under the vision of the ultrasound samples can be obtained from glands or other structures next to the windpipe and main airways.

When is EBUS used?

The use of EBUS means that it is possible to diagnose abnormalities in lymph glands (nodes) that lie between the breathing tubes and the lungs. Before this test was available, it was necessary to have further scans or an operation to obtain the same information. In the vast majority of patients EBUS (and the biopsies) provides information that help to make a confirmed diagnosis.

EBUS is mainly used to investigate enlarged lymph nodes found on scans of the chest (CT scan or PET scans). EBUS is extremely important in the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer as well as other cancers which may sometimes spread to the lymph glands in the chest. The procedure also helps to diagnose conditions such as sarcoidosis or tuberculosis.

What are the risks of EBUS?

EBUS is an extremely safe test. It is common to have a minor sore throat which settles down quickly, and to cough up a little blood after the examination and this should not alarm you. Fever, flu-like symptoms or aching across the lungs – these symptoms can occur and last for 24-48 hours.  Usually they will settle by taking paracetamol.

For further information on the procedure, we suggest patients watch this video.