Reviewed by Ann Mullen, RN, CNS, AE-C, CDE, TTS, Gregory P. Downey, MD

How is lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) diagnosed?

LAM can be difficult to diagnose, because the symptoms are similar to other lung disease such as asthma and bronchitis. Because of the common symptoms, many women may not realize they have LAM or that they need to see a doctor.

See a pulmonologist who has experience with LAM and diseases like LAM to diagnose and treat the condition. The doctor will examine you, will ask about your symptoms and may order diagnostic tests such as:

  • High-Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) Scan — the most accurate and noninvasive way to identify LAM present in the lung, look for fluid around the lungs and find LAM-related kidney tumors, which are present in about 40 percent of people with LAM

  • Bronchoscopy — a  scope that’s inserted in your nose and down through your trachea to look inside your lungs and airways and to take a tissue sample for a biopsy if needed

  • Lung Function Test — a breathing test shows how much air you can inhale and exhale within a time frame and if your lungs are functioning normally, or if there is an abnormality

  • Chest X-ray — imaging that can show if a lung collapsed lung or if there’s fluid in the lung cavity

  • Pulse Oximetry — identifies how much oxygen is in your blood

  • VEGF-D Blood Test — if there’s a high level of VEGF-D hormone and cysts present in the lung, then a biopsy may not be needed to diagnose LAM

  • Lung Biopsy — tissues collected by thoracoscopy (a scope inserted in a small incision) or thoracotomy (open chest surgery) can diagnose LAM or related diseases


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