Amid the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the benefits and risks of bronchoscopy remain uncertain. This study was designed to characterize bronchoscopy-related practice patterns, diagnostic yields, and adverse events involving patients with known or suspected COVID-19.
An online survey tool retrospectively queried bronchoscopists about their experiences with patients with known or suspected COVID-19 between March 20 and August 20, 2020. Collected data comprised the Global Pandemic SARS-CoV-2 Bronchoscopy Database (GPS-BD). All bronchoscopists and patients were anonymous with no direct investigator-to-respondent contact.
Bronchoscopy procedures involving 289 patients from 26 countries were analyzed. One-half of patients had known COVID-19. Most (82%) had at least 1 pre-existing comorbidity, 80% had at least 1 organ failure, 51% were critically ill, and 37% were intubated at the time of the procedure. Bronchoscopy was performed with diagnostic intent in 166 (57%) patients, yielding a diagnosis in 86 (52%). and management changes in 80 (48%). Bronchoscopy was performed with therapeutic intent in 71 (25%) patients, mostly for secretion clearance (87%). Complications attributed to bronchoscopy or significant clinical decline within 12 hours of the procedure occurred in 24 (8%) cases, with 1 death.
Results from this international database provide a widely generalizable characterization of the benefits and risks of bronchoscopy in patients with known or suspected COVID-19. Bronchoscopy in this setting has reasonable clinical benefit, with diagnosis and/or management change resulting from about half of the diagnostic cases. However, it is not without risk, especially in patients with limited physiological reserve.