Diagnosis

As patients with PF experience symptoms and also have an underlying pattern of scarring similar to other lung disorders, pulmonary fibrosis can be very difficult to diagnose.   To diagnose PF, a doctor will take a complete medical history and perform a thorough physical examination.  During this examination, the doctor will listen to your chest to determine if your lungs are producing any abnormal sounds when you breathe. The doctor may then order one or more of the following diagnostic tests or procedures:

DIAGNOSTIC

DESCRIPTION

PURPOSE

Chest imaging Use of radiologic machines to take pictures of your lungs, such as x-ray or High Resolution Computer Tomography (HRCT) To view lung structures, look for scar tissue and assess patterns of scarring
Pulmonary function test A test using a device with a mouthpiece to measure a patient’s breathing capacity To measure the degree of impairment in lung function
Exercise test
(or desaturation study)
A test in which the patient is monitored while using a treadmill or stationary bicycle To measure how well the lungs and heart respond to physical activity and evaluate oxygen levels with exertion
Six Minute Walk Test (SMWT) A test where a patient walks on a flat surface as far as possible in six minutes To measure the distance you are able to walk as well as lung function during the walk.
Lung biopsy A procedure in which a tissue sample is obtained through a bronchoscope or by means of a small surgical incision (VATS – video-assisted thoracic surgery) between the ribs (open-lung biopsy) To obtain a sample of lung tissue for direct examination