Bronchiectasis Diagnosis & Prognosis

Reviewed by Gwen A. Huitt, MD, MS
The first step in diagnosing bronchiectasis is a thorough evaluation. Your doctor may have you do a number of tests to evaluate your breathing.

A multiple step process usually leads to the diagnosis of bronchiectasis. Many factors are considered.

The evaluation for bronchiectasis often includes:

  • A complete medical history

  • A complete physical examination

  • A chest CT scan (a specialized X-ray which produces detailed slice-like pictures) of the lungs.

  • Breathing tests, called pulmonary function tests. These determine the presence and severity of abnormal airflow out of the lungs.

  • Specific screening or diagnostic tests for some of the possible underlying diseases that may cause bronchiectasis, based on the history and physical exam.

You and your health care provider may choose to have you seen by a specialist, such as a pulmonologist (lung specialist) to confirm a diagnosis and treat you bronchiectasis once it is diagnosed.

Doctors at National Jewish Health have evaluated and treated bronchiectasis for decades. Currently, scientists at National Jewish Health are investigating new treatments for bronchiectasis. They are also pursuing aggressive treatment program designed to minimize or prevent the occurrence of bronchiectasis.

 

What is the prognosis with bronchiectasis?

Generally the prognosis of bronchiectasis is very good.  The earlier it is diagnosed, the earlier treatment and management can be initiated preventing it from worsening.  Be proactive with your doctor.  Remember that the gold standard to make a diagnosis of bronchiectasis is now a high resolution CT scan of the lungs and NOT a simple chest xray.

 

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