Diseases Home > Pulmonary Fibrosis Diagnosis

In diagnosing pulmonary fibrosis, your healthcare provider will check your medical history and perform a physical exam to look for any signs of the condition. A number of diagnostic tests may be recommended, including a chest x-ray, exercise testing, or a lung biopsy. Before your healthcare provider makes a pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis, he or she will also consider other diseases that may share similar symptoms.

Diagnosing Pulmonary Fibrosis: An Overview

In order to make a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis, a healthcare provider will begin by asking a number of questions. This will include questions about:
  • Your current symptoms
  • Your work history, such as working in a factory, farm, or mine
  • Any medications you are taking
  • Any medical conditions you may have (see Causes of Pulmonary Fibrosis)
  • Your family's history of medical conditions
  • Whether you smoke
  • If you have had radiation for cancer, such as breast cancer.
He or she will also perform a physical exam to look for signs of pulmonary fibrosis. He or she will also look for signs of conditions known to either cause pulmonary fibrosis or are associated with it. The healthcare provider may then recommend tests to help make a diagnosis.

Pulmonary Fibrosis Diagnostic Tests

There is no single test for diagnosing pulmonary fibrosis. Therefore, a healthcare provider will recommend several different tests. Some of these tests may include:
  • A chest x-ray
  • High-resolution computerized tomography (HRCT)
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Exercise testing
  • A bronchoscopy
  • A lung biopsy.
Chest X-Ray
A chest x-ray takes a picture of the heart and lungs. It can show shadows that suggest scar tissue. However, not everyone with pulmonary fibrosis has an abnormal chest x-ray. For example, in people who are eventually diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, it is thought that about 16 percent of them have normal chest x-rays at the time they're diagnosed.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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