Using a Biopsy, CT Scan, or MRI to Identify Sarcoidosis
Your doctor may take a small sample of tissue from one of your affected organs. For example, when breathing tests or chest x-rays show signs of sarcoidosis in your lungs, your doctor may do a fiberoptic bronchoscopy biopsy. This will help confirm the diagnosis. Your doctor inserts a tiny forceps through the bronchoscope to collect tissue that is then examined. Because the granulomas may be spread out in your lungs, the bronchoscope may miss some of them.
Biopsies of your skin and liver are sometimes done to detect granulomas in these organs.
You may have sarcoidosis in other organs as well, and multiple biopsies may be necessary. However, every organ involved does not need to be biopsied for a diagnosis to be made.
A CT (computer tomography) scan provides a computer-generated image of your organs that has more detail than a regular chest x-ray. It can provide more information about how sarcoidosis has affected an organ.
Your doctor may do a CT scan to:
- Obtain more information about how much of your lung is affected by sarcoidosis.
- Detect sarcoidosis in your liver. A CT scan of your abdomen will show if your liver is enlarged and if there is a pattern suggesting granulomas.
An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is also called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) scanning. This scan uses powerful magnets and radio waves to make images of any organs that your doctor doesn't want to risk doing a biopsy on. For example, an MRI scan can be used to diagnose sarcoidosis in your brain, spinal cord, nerves, or heart.