Definition of Bronchoalveolar Lavage

Bronchoalveolar lavage is a diagnostic procedure that washes cells from the bronchi and alveoli for laboratory examination.

The doctor does bronchoalveolar lavage during bronchoscopy, blocking a small section of the bronchial segment to instill and then withdraw sterile saline. The solution contains cells from the inner lung structures that can provide diagnostic information.

The doctor may also use bronchoalveolar lavage therapeutically, to irrigate (rinse away) thickened mucus or other deposits from the lungs in conditions when thick plugs of mucus block the airways and do not respond to other treatments.


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