In making a diagnosis of emphysema, your doctor will start by conducting a thorough medical examination, recording your medical history and asking about any symptoms you are experiencing.
The following tests may then be conducted to make a definite diagnosis:
- Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) This test involves a series of breathing maneuvers that measure the airflow and volume of air in your lungs. This allows your doctor to objectively assess the function of your lungs.
- High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) This is a special type of CT scan that provides your doctor with high-resolution images of your lungs. Having a HRCT is no different than having a regular CT scan; they both are performed on an open-air table and take only a few minutes.
- Chest X-Ray Chest X-rays can help confirm a diagnosis of emphysema and rule out other lung conditions.
- Arterial Blood Gases Analysis These blood tests measure how well your lungs transfer oxygen to your bloodstream and remove carbon dioxide.
- Sputum Examination Analysis of cells in your sputum can help determine the cause of some lung problems.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.