Pulmonary Fibrosis

Many people with Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) do not receive a diagnosis until they have had symptoms for some time. The diagnosis of Pulmonary Fibrosis can be challenging because it can be confused with other lung conditions such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and heart disease.

There are more than 200 types of PF. It is important for your healthcare team to identify the underlying type of PF, to help determine the most appropriate treatment options for your condition. It therefore requires careful evaluation by a specialist. Some of the tests they will perform include: 

  • Physical examination: Your specialist doctor will listen to your chest to see if they can hear fine crackles in your chest that can sound like velcro. These can be a valuable sign in early diagnosis.  
  • Blood tests: This is mainly to exclude known causes of lung scaring.  
  • 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 PF, 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.  
  • Lung biopsy: This might be required in some cases. 

Once the results are available, a specialist team of healthcare professionals (such as doctors, radiologists, pathologists) may meet together to determine your final diagnosis. This group of healthcare professionals is called a Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). 

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