Bronchoalveolar lavage

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Bronchoalveolar lavage
ICD-9-CM 33.24
MeSH D018893

Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is a medical procedure in which a bronchoscope is passed through the mouth or nose into the lungs and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination. It is typically performed to diagnose lung disease.[1]

In particular, bronchoalveolar lavage is commonly used to diagnose infections in people with immune system problems,[2] pneumonia in people on ventilators, some types of lung cancer, and scarring of the lung (interstitial lung disease). It is the most common manner to sample the components of the epithelial lining fluid (ELF) and to determine the protein composition of the pulmonary airways, and it is often used in immunological research as a means of sampling cells or pathogen levels in the lung. Examples of these include T-cell populations and influenza viral levels.

BAL has been used for therapeutic applications.[3] Whole lung lavage (WLL; informally, "lung washing"[4]) is a treatment for pulmonary alveolar proteinosis.[5]


  1. ^ "Bronchoalveolar Lavage" (PDF). Atlas of Critical Care Procedures. American Thoracic Society. 
  2. ^ Henderson AJ (March 1994). "Bronchoalveolar lavage". Arch. Dis. Child. 70 (3): 167–9. doi:10.1136/adc.70.3.167. PMC 1029733. PMID 8135556. 
  3. ^ Danel, C.; Israel-Biet, D.; Costabel, U.; Klech, H. (1992). "Therapeutic applications of bronchoalveolar lavage". European Respiratory Journal (European Respiratory Society) 5 (10): 1173–1175. ISSN 0903-1936. 
  4. ^ "How 'Lung Washing' Helps Patients Breathe Again". healthessentials. Cleveland Clinic. August 6, 2014. 
  5. ^ Michaud, Gaëtane; Reddy, Chakravarthy; Ernst, Armin (2009). "Whole-lung lavage for pulmonary alveolar proteinosis". Chest 136 (6): 1678–1681. doi:10.1378/chest.09-2295.