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Chest. 2019 Apr;155(4):834-847. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2018.08.1035. Epub 2018 Aug 29.

Forbearance With Bronchoscopy: A Review of Gratuitous Indications.

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Medicine Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH.
Respiratory Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH.
Diagnostic Radiology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH.
Respiratory Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH. Electronic address:


Advanced technologies such as endobronchial ultrasound and electromagnetic navigation have revolutionized the field of bronchoscopy. Its indications as a diagnostic as well as a therapeutic tool continue to expand at a rapid pace. This growth also has led to the emergence of a new subspecialty of interventional pulmonology and more than 40 fellowship training programs. However, with increasing popularity and accessibility, there is a high impetus for performing the procedure when it may be of limited value. On the basis of a literature review and our own experience, we produced a list of conditions for which bronchoscopy is of limited value yet is being performed frequently. Conditions such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, massive hemoptysis, cystic fibrosis, smear-negative pulmonary TB, and stage I sarcoidosis may be approached best in a more prudent fashion, with the bronchoscopic approach reserved for exceptional cases. We present an overview of conditions for which the expectations for bronchoscopy exceed the evidence in the literature, and we coined the term "forbearance with bronchoscopy" for situations in which this popular tool may not be the most appropriate initial approach.


bronchoscopy; forbearing bronchoscopy; guided bronchoscopy; indications for bronchoscopy; low-yield bronchoscopy

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