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Procedures

Procedural Experience

  • Dr Herath is an interventional bronchoscopist with formal international training and a post specialist fellowship in interventional bronchoscopy in thoracic malignancy, completed at McGill University Montreal Canada in 2013.
  • She is one of the very few interventional bronchoscopists who have completed formal training in a North American Centre.
  • Dr Herath started up new services for minimally invasive Radial EBUS and Cryobiopsy in Middlemore Hospital Auckland and New Zealand as well as Westmead Hospital, Sydney Australia.
  • She has completed over 1500 bronchoscopies with over a 1000 EBUS procedures with excellent published success rates.
  • Dr Herath frequently performs the following procedures

Flexible Bronchoscopy

What is Flexible Bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy is an investigative procedure used to diagnose lung conditions.
This involves a small, flexible camera being inserted through your nose or mouth into your windpipes to have a look and visualise internal abnormalities.

What conditions is Flexible Bronchoscopy used for?

  •  Common symptoms and conditions that require a flexible bronchoscopy include persistent coughing, shortness of breath, pneumonia, fungal or parasitic lung infections, lung cancer, COPD, or lung inflammation caused by tuberculosis or sarcoidosis.
  • It may also be used if X-rays or other tests show something unusual.
  • A Flexible Bronchoscopy can detect infection, lung blockages, tumours, excess mucus and bleeding.
  • Samples can also be taken during the procedure.
  • Samples include brushing of airway walls, biopsy of abnormal areas and washout of the lungs using sterile saline to detect abnormal cells.
  • Difficult to diagnosed lung conditions like atypical infections and fungal infections can be diagnosed using flexible bronchoscopy.

Am I asleep for the procedure? Where can I have it done?

  • This depends on whether you are privately insured or not.
  • For privately insured patients this procedure is performed under general anaesthetic; therefore, you will not be aware of the procedure.
  • The procedure can be booked at Macquarie University Hospital, Sydney Adventist Hospital or Westmead Private Hospital as per your preference. Procedures are held on Thursdays and Fridays each week and urgent procedures can be booked at very short notice.
  • If you do not have private health insurance the procedure will be booked at Westmead Public Hospital and the procedure will be done under conscious sedation.
  • Dr Herath is a staff specialist at Westmead Public Hospital with admission rights and a bronchoscopy list every Wednesday. Unfortunately, Westmead Public Hospital has only 2 anaesthetist supported lists per month for many patients which are reserved for very unwell patients and has long wait times.
  • The procedure under sedation is not painful but of course not as comfortable as having it under anaesthesia.

What is the wait period to get a flexible bronchoscopy?

  • There is no wait period for bronchoscopy with Dr Herath.
  • Dr Herath is a an advanced bronchoscopist and thereby has her own lists in both public and private sector
  • The procedure will be done as urgently as possible as per the medical condition of the patient.
  • You do not need to be referred to another doctor to do your procedure which reduces the wait times and cost to you as the patient markedly.

How long does it take? How long will I stay in Hospital?

  • A Flexible Bronchoscopy with a lavage generally only takes 8-10 minutes for the procedure.
  • This is a day procedure and you can go home 1-2 hours after the procedure.
  • You will be monitored for two hours after your procedure.
  • You will be given a sip of water in 1 hour after the procedure, called a “sip test”.
  • This is to check that the local anaesthetic effect on your mouth has worn off and you can swallow without a risk of aspiration.
  • If you pass the test you will be given a light snack and discharged home.

What is the item number for this procedure?

  • The MBS item number for your health fund for this procedure is 41892.

What should I do in preparation for bronchoscopy?

  • Fast for 6 hours prior to the procedure for both food and fluid
  • If you are undergoing a biopsy stop blood-thinning tablet agents for 5 days pre procedure. Dr Herath will discuss this with you. (These include but not limited to Xeralto, Eliquis, Warfarin, Clopidogrel, Ticaglore)
  • You may continue aspirin even if you have a biopsy.
  • Dr Herath will contact your cardiologist or your referring respiratory physician to discuss if it is OK for you to stop blood thinners or if you require a “bridging agent” called Clexane or Heparin leading up to the procedure.
  • You should not take diabetic medication the morning of the procedure
  • You should take all other medications with a sip of clear water.
  • You need someone to drive you home and stay with you for one night. If this is not possible, we can organise for you to stay overnight in the hospital.
  • If you are a current smoker, stopping smoking for a period will immensely help in reducing airway discomfort and irritation. This will make the cough much better post procedure

What are the side effects of a flexible Bronchoscopy and lavage?

Flexible Bronchoscopy is a non-complicated safe procedure.
We do these procedures on daily basis and are prepared for types of adverse events during procedure and equipped to handle emergencies. Most side effects occur whilst you are in hospital and will be attended to with monitoring.
The rare side effects that may occur after discharge are listed so that you can watch out for them and act immediately.

Common side effects during or immediately after the procedure What to Do Rare side effects Once you leave the hospital What to Do
Cough post procedure
Coughing blood mixed with sputum
Self-resolve over 24h Infection and fever post procedure Occurs 2-4 hours post procedure in 3% patients
If you have fever >38.5 or feel unwell, you will need IV antibiotics and fluids.
Please return to emergency department of the nearest hospital.
Tiredness Self-resolve in 24h Shortness of breath/chest pain after going home Shortness of breath is also a sign of pneumothorax or air leak outside the lung. If this occurs, please report to the nearest hospital emergency department.
Sore throat Difflam lozenges or throat spray for 48h Coughing up frank blood more than a tablespoon However, coughing up frank blood more than a tablespoon is not normal.
This is a sign of a larger bleed inside the lung. Please report to the nearest emergency department.
Feeling as if you have flu (30% of patients after a wash/lavage) Take paracetamol
Take your temperature
This should be below 38.5 C
Bleeding during procedure We are prepared for a bleed specially during a biopsy.
Air leak outside the lung If we anticipate an air leak, we will perform an USS or a Chest X ray to find out if this had occurred prior to discharge
Common side effects during or immediately after the procedure What to Do
Rare side effects Once you leave the hospital What to Do
Cough post procedure
Coughing blood mixed with sputum
Self-resolve over 24h
Infection and fever post procedure Occurs 2-4 hours post procedure in 3% patients
If you have fever >38.5 or feel unwell, you will need IV antibiotics and fluids.
Please return to emergency department of the nearest hospital.
Tiredness Self-resolve in 24h
Shortness of breath/chest pain after going home Shortness of breath is also a sign of pneumothorax or air leak outside the lung. If this occurs, please report to the nearest hospital emergency department.
Sore throat Difflam lozenges or throat spray for 48h
Coughing up frank blood more than a tablespoon However, coughing up frank blood more than a tablespoon is not normal.
This is a sign of a larger bleed inside the lung. Please report to the nearest emergency department.
Feeling as if you have flu (30% of patients after a wash/lavage) Take paracetamol
Take your temperature
This should be below 38.5 C
Bleeding during procedure We are prepared for a bleed specially during a biopsy.
Air leak outside the lung If we anticipate an air leak, we will perform an USS or a Chest X ray to find out if this had occurred prior to discharge
  • Although not mentioned above in the chart due to extreme rarity, adverse events due to anaesthesia, drug allergies, heart attacks, asthma exacerbations and even death can occur post procedures.
  • The more medical issues you have the higher the chance of an adverse events the above chart is a general guide only.
  • If you have multiple medical issues Dr Herath will discuss your individual risk and you will be referred to the pre-admission clinic for an anaesthetist to view your medical history and decide on the best level of anaesthesia for you.
  • We will take extra precautions like booking an Intensive Care bed post procedure if you have underlying medical issues.

When can you return to work?

You can return to work and start all your normal medications including blood thinners the next day.

When will the results be available?

Results will be available within one week.
Please book an appointment with Dr Herath one week after your procedure to discuss results and start treatment.
If you were referred to Dr Herath by your Respiratory Physician or other specialist, please make an appointment with your specialist only.
The results will be copied to the referring specialist.