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Tracheobronchomalacia (TBM) Diagnosis

Your doctor may suspect a diagnosis of TBM if you exhibit some of its typical signs and symptoms or have abnormal pulmonary function tests. He or she can then perform additional tests to confirm the diagnosis and see how severe it is.

It can be challenging for doctors to diagnose TBM, since patients often have other chronic lung problems at the same time, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These conditions can have similar symptoms to TBM.

The most helpful tests used to diagnose TBM are dynamic CT scan and dynamic bronchoscopy with forced breathing exercises. Both of these techniques are used by the Temple Lung Center’s TBM program to confirm a diagnosis before deciding on a course of treatment.

Dynamic bronchoscopy is the gold standard for diagnosing TBM. The test lets doctors look at a patient’s airway in real time. It also accurately captures dynamic airway properties, and produces valid results about the degree, extent, and location of any disease. 

Dynamic expiratory (exhaling) CT scan is a highly sensitive way of finding abnormal softening of an airway. This test is an effective, noninvasive test for diagnosing TBM.