Lungs Home > Diagnosing Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

A bronchoscopy is used to look inside your lungs. With this test, your healthcare provider inserts a flexible, rubber tube with a tiny light and camera on the end of it through your nose or mouth and into your lungs. He or she can also insert forceps through the tube to collect lung tissue. This is known as a biopsy. Looking at samples of tissue from several places in your lungs under a microscope is the best way for your healthcare provider to diagnose idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Also, a lung biopsy can help your healthcare provider rule out other causes of your condition. It can also show your healthcare provider how far your condition has advanced.
During a bronchoscopy, your healthcare provider may also inject a small amount of salt water (saline) through the bronchoscope into your lungs. This fluid washes the lungs and helps to bring up cells from the area around the air sacs for examination under a microscope. This is known as bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL).
Lung Biopsy
Besides a bronchoscopy, there are several other ways that your healthcare provider can get a sample of lung tissue. This includes:
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopy. This is the procedure that healthcare providers use most to obtain lung tissue. Your healthcare provider inserts a small, lighted tube with a camera (endoscope) into your chest through small incisions between your ribs. The endoscope provides a video image of the lungs and allows your healthcare provider to collect samples of tissue. This procedure must be done in the hospital under general anesthesia.
  • Thoracotomy. Your healthcare provider removes a few small pieces of lung tissue through an incision in the chest wall between your ribs. A thoracotomy is done in the hospital under general anesthesia.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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