Evaluating Lung Disease

Tests and Imaging

Your doctor has many options at his disposal to help effectively evaluate your lung disease. These tests range from blood work, imaging tests and direct visualization tests prior to deciding on a surgical course.

  • Imaging tests include chest x-rays, CT (computed tomography) scans and MRI's (magnetic resonance imaging).
  • Visualization and biopsy tests:
    • Bronchoscopy is done using a thin tube containing a camera that is inserted into your esophagus by way of your nose or mouth to give the doctor a view of your breathing passages at the entrance to the lungs.
    • Mediastinoscopy is the term that refers to the insertion of the camera tube into a small incision above your breast bone to examine the space between the lungs known as the mediastinum.
    • Mediastinotomy is used to examine and biopsy lymph nodes in the chest through an incision in the chest wall.
    • Needle biopsy involves the insertion of a needle throught he chest wall or down the bronchoscope to collect tissues or fluid.
  • Other tests can include spirometry, pulse oximetry, and arterial blood samples.
    • Spirometry measures your lung's properties such as its volume and its ability to expand and contract.
    • Pulse oximetry measures how much oxygen is passed from your lungs into your blood stream.
    • Arterial blood samples can also help demonstrate how much oxygen is in your blood.

This information is provided by the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. It is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.


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