Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

The diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) can be challenging because it can be confused with other lung conditions such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

It is important to look for other causes of lung scarring, as the outlook and treatment can be very different. It therefore requires careful evaluation by a specialist and some of the tests they will use include:

  • Physical examination: Your health professional will listen to your chest to see if they can hear velcro-like fine crackles in your chest. These can be a valuable sign in early diagnosis. Fine crackles are present in more than 80 per cent of patients in early stages of IPF.
  • Blood tests: This is mainly to exclude other causes of lung scarring.
  • Lung function (breathing) tests: To measure how well your lungs are working. This is also an important measure of how your disease is progressing over time.
  • Chest X-ray: To look for any signs of scarring although this does not always show the disease, especially in the early stages.
  • High resolution computed tomography (HRCT) chest scan: This is a CT scan that uses specific techniques to enhance the quality of the images and provides very detailed pictures of your lungs. This is required to confirm the diagnosis of IPF.
  • Lung biopsy: This might be required in some cases.