What is the diagnosis of Bronchiectasis?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Jan 18, 2013

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Your doctor may suspect bronchiectasis if you have a daily cough that produces large amounts of sputum (spit).


To find out whether you have bronchiectasis, your doctor may recommend tests to:

  • Identify any underlying causes that need to be treated
  • Rule out other causes of your symptoms
  • Find out how much your airways have been damaged

Diagnostic Tests and Procedures

Chest Computed Tomography Scan

The most commonly used test to diagnose bronchiectasis is a chest computed tomography (to-MOG-ra-fee) scan, orchest CT scan.

This painless test creates precise images of your airways and other structures in your chest. It can show how much your airways are damaged and where the damage is. A chest CT scan gives more detailed pictures than a regular chest x ray.

Chest X Ray

You also may have a chest x ray. This painless test creates pictures of the structures in your chest, such as your heart and lungs. A chest x ray may show areas of abnormal lung and thickened, irregular airway walls.

Other Tests

You also may have other tests, such as:

•    Blood tests-These tests can show whether you have an underlying condition that can lead to bronchiectasis. They also can show whether you have an infection or low levels of certain infection-fighting blood cells.

•    A sputum culture-Lab tests of a sample of your sputum can show whether you have bacteria (such as the bacteria that cause tuberculosis) and fungi.

•    Lung function tests-These tests measure the size of your lungs, how much air you can breathe in and out, how fast you can breathe air out, and how well your lungs deliver oxygen to your blood. Lung function tests help show how much lung damage you have.

•    A sweat test or other tests for cystic fibrosis.


If your bronchiectasis doesn't respond to treatment, your doctor may recommend a bronchoscopy (bron-KOS-ko-pee). This procedure is used to look at the insides of the airways.

During this procedure, a long, narrow, flexible tube with a light on the end is inserted through your nose or mouth into your airways. This tube is called a bronchoscope. It provides a video image of your airways. You'll be given medicines to numb the upper airway and to help you relax during the procedure.

Bronchoscopy can show whether something is blocking your airways. If there is bleeding, this procedure can show where the bleeding is coming from.


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