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Pulmonary Fibrosis Diagnosis

There is no single test to diagnose pulmonary fibrosis. Your doctor will likely ask you questions about your medical history and may recommend one or more of the following tests:

  • Chest X-Ray: creates a picture of the structures inside the chest and can show shadows that may be scar tissue.
     
  • High-resolution computed tomography: a high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scan provides a more detailed and sharper picture of the structures inside the chest than an X-ray, and can more clearly show scar tissue and how much lung damage is present.
     
  • Lung function tests: help doctors measure the amount of air you can take into the lungs, how fast you can breathe the air out, and how well you absorb oxygen.
     
  • Pulse oximetry: uses a small sensor that attaches to the finger or ear. It uses light to estimate how much oxygen is present in the blood.
     
  • Arterial blood gas test: involves taking a small blood sample from an artery and sending it to a laboratory to measure the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood. This test is more accurate than pulse oximetry.
     
  • Exercise tests: are performed while you walk or pedal on an exercise machine. They may involve an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check heart rate, blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, or taking blood or breath samples.
     
  • Lung biopsy: involves taking samples of lung tissue from several different places in the lungs. The samples are then examined under a microscope, and can diagnose idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or rule out other conditions such as cancer or infection.