Diagnosing Idiopathic 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 you have. This test can help your healthcare provider spot IPF at an early stage or rule it out. It can also help your healthcare provider decide how likely you are to respond to treatment.
Pulmonary Function Tests
Your healthcare provider will do a breathing test called spirometry to find out how much lung damage you have. A spirometer is a device that measures how much air you can blow out of your lungs after taking a deep breath. It also measures how fast you can breathe the air out. If there is a lot of scarring in your lungs, you will not be able to move a normal amount of air out of them.
Skin Test for Tuberculosis
Your healthcare provider may recommend a TB skin test. For this test, a small amount of a substance that reacts to tuberculosis (TB) is injected under the top layer of skin on one of your arms. If you have a positive reaction, a small hard lump will develop at the injection site within 48 to 72 hours after the test. This TB skin test is done to rule out tuberculosis.
Exercise testing is used to find out how well your lungs move oxygen and carbon dioxide into and out of your bloodstream when you're active. During this test, you walk or pedal on an exercise machine for a few minutes. Electrodes attached to your chest and an EKG (electrocardiogram) machine show your heart rate, a blood pressure cuff monitors your blood pressure, and a pulse oximeter attached to a finger or ear lobe shows how much oxygen is in your blood.
Sometimes, healthcare providers place a catheter in an artery in one of your arms to draw samples of your blood that will provide a more accurate measure of the oxygen and carbon dioxide content in your 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 you've taken in and carbon dioxide you're breathing out.