Diagnosing Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
In order to diagnose idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), your healthcare provider will begin by asking several questions, followed by a physical exam. Diagnosing the condition also includes performing certain tests, such as a chest x-ray and exercise testing. The test that is most useful for making an IPF diagnosis is the video-assisted thoracoscopy, in which a camera is inserted into the lungs and biopsies are taken.
How Is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Diagnosed?In order to make a diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a healthcare provider will begin by asking a number of questions. This will include questions about:
- Your current symptoms
- Your work history
- Any medications you are taking
- Any medical conditions you may have
- Your family's history of medical conditions
- Whether you smoke.
He or she will also perform a physical exam to look for signs of pulmonary fibrosis (although, in most cases, the physical exam is initially normal). The healthcare provider may then recommend tests to help make a diagnosis.
Tests to Diagnose Idiopathic Pulmonary FibrosisThere is no single test for diagnosing IPF. Therefore, your healthcare provider will probably recommend several different tests. Some of these tests may include:
- A chest x-ray
- High-resolution computerized tomography (HRCT)
- Pulmonary function tests
- A tuberculosis skin test (TB skin test)
- Exercise testing
- A bronchoscopy
- A lung biopsy.
A chest x-ray takes a picture of your heart and lungs. It can show shadows that suggest scar tissue. However, not everyone with IPF has an abnormal chest x-ray. In fact, it is thought that about 16 percent of people with IPF have normal chest x-rays at the time they're diagnosed.