Thomas FuehnerDepartment of Respiratory Medicine, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Germany

Background: Flexible bronchoscopy has become an important diagnostic and therapeutic tool for the management of patients with various diseases of the chest. Availability of a 24-hour bronchoscopyservice equipped with experienced personnel is becoming increasingly important especially for intensive care patients. However, such services have been implemented only in a few medical centres.The aim of this study was to evaluate the usage of a 24-hour emergency service in a large university hospital with a 1 year prospective analysis of emergency bronchoscopy service in a tertiary care centre.
Methods: Frequencies, indications and efficiency of therapeutic interventions were evaluated after each bronchoscopy using a specially designed questionnaire. All bronchoscopies were performed as emergency procedures out of operational schedule. A total of 614 emergency bronchoscopies were performed, 88% of them in intensive care units.

Results: The vast majority (84.5%) of the procedures were necessary for therapeutic interventions; that is, atelectasis, airway secretion, aspiration or bronchopulmonary bleeding. According to prespecified criteria, 37.6% (n = 195) of therapeutic procedures were assessed as ‘very helpful’ and 3.9% (n = 20) as ‘life saving’. Diagnostic bronchoscopies were performed mainly to collect airway material for microbiological evaluations in immunocompromised patients. In these cases, the diagnostic yield was approximately 50%.

Conclusion: The availability of a 24-hour bronchoscopy service has been found to improve patient care and was occasionally considered life saving. Thus, comparable services should be made more widely available.

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