Temporal Trends and Variation in Bronchoscopy Use for Acute Respiratory Failure in the United States

Max T. Wayne, Thomas S. Valley, Douglas A. Arenberg, Jose De Cardenas, Hallie C. Prescott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: National data on bronchoscopy for the evaluation of acute respiratory failure are lacking, and the limited available data suggest wide variation in use. Research Question: How commonly is bronchoscopy performed among hospitalizations with acute respiratory failure? How has use changed over time and across hospitals? Study Design and Methods: This was an observational cohort study of adult hospitalizations (2012-2018) treated with invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV) using the National Inpatient Sample, which represents 97% of all hospitalizations in the United States. We measured the proportion of hospitalizations treated with IMV who underwent bronchoscopy and assessed trends in bronchoscopy use over time. Multilevel linear regression models were used to quantify hospital-level variation, adjusting for differences in patient and hospital characteristics. Results: We identified 6,101,070 IMV-treated hospitalizations (2012-2018), of whom 609,405 underwent bronchoscopy; among hospitalizations receiving bronchoscopy, mean age was 61 years, 41.8% were women, and in-hospital mortality was 30.8%. The percentage of IMV-treated hospitalizations receiving bronchoscopy increased from 9.5% (95% CI, 9.1%-9.9%) in 2012 to 10.8% (95% CI, 10.4%-11.2%) in 2018 (P < .001 for difference). In 2018, bronchoscopy use varied from 0% to 57.1% among 1,787 hospitals, and in multilevel models adjusted for patient and hospital characteristics, 16.0% of the variation was explained at the hospital level. The median OR was 2.13 (95% CI, 2.05-2.21), indicating 113% increased odds of receiving bronchoscopy if moving from a lower-use to a higher-use hospital. Interpretation: Bronchoscopy use among hospitalizations treated with IMV has increased over time. The large variation in use of bronchoscopy across hospitals suggests potentially unwarranted practice variation and need for further studies to clarify which patients benefit from bronchoscopy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-138
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • acute hypoxic respiratory failure
  • bronchoscopy
  • invasive mechanical ventilation


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