Diseases Home > Tests Used to Identify Pulmonary Fibrosis

High-Resolution Computerized Tomography
A high-resolution computerized tomography (HRCT) scan is an x-ray that provides sharper and more detailed images than a regular chest x-ray. It can show scar tissue, as well as how much lung damage a person has. This test can help a healthcare provider spot pulmonary fibrosis at an early stage, or rule it out. It can also help the healthcare provider decide how likely a person is to respond to treatment.
 
Pulmonary Function Tests
With a pulmonary function test, a healthcare provider will do a breathing test called spirometry to find out how much lung damage a person has. A spirometer is a device that measures how much air a person can blow out of the lungs after taking a deep breath. It also measures how fast a person can breathe the air out. If there is a lot of scarring in the lungs, a person will not be able to move a normal amount of air out of them.
 
Exercise Testing
Exercise testing is used to find out how well the lungs move oxygen and carbon dioxide into and out of the bloodstream when a person is active. During this test, you walk or pedal on an exercise machine for a few minutes. Electrodes attached to the chest and an EKG (electrocardiogram) machine show the heart rate, a blood pressure cuff monitors blood pressure, and a pulse oximeter attached to a finger or ear lobe shows how much oxygen is in the blood.
 
Sometimes, healthcare providers place a catheter in an artery in one arm to draw samples of blood that will provide a more accurate measure of the oxygen and carbon dioxide content in the blood. They may also ask you to breathe into a tube that separates the air you breathe out from room air, which provides a precise measure of the amount of oxygen a person has taken in and carbon dioxide that is breathed out.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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