Investigations and diagnosis

CAT scan machineWhen a patient is suspected of having bronchiectasis, they will be referred to a specialist respiratory clinic where a number of investigations and tests will help with diagnosis.

  • A full history of the patients symptoms is taken.
  • Other medical conditions are considered, particularly other chest problems.
  • Chest X-ray is often the first test but it is not diagnostic. It can help to rule out other possible conditions.
  • High Resolution Computer Tomography (HRCT) of the chest is used to scan thin slices of lung to pick up abnormalities. This is the only test which can diagnose bronchiectasis.
  • Lung function tests. Spiromerty or gas transfer tests.
  • Mucus cultures to look for expected and unusual organisms.
  • Blood tests for allergy markers e.g. Eosinophils, aspergillus.
  • Blood tests for immunoglobulins (antibodies) which are used by immune system to neutralise bugs.
  • Assessment for anxiety and depression.
  • Smoking history.
  • History of other associated diseases.