When you are experiencing a breathing problem, an accurate and timely diagnosis is essential to creating a treatment plan that will improve your health and help you feel better.
In the Sutter Health network, respiratory specialists offer a wide range of diagnostic services to identify pulmonary disorders and start you on the road to recovery. Here are some of the tests we offer.
Pulmonary Function Tests
Many different tests are used to evaluate pulmonary function. These tests can focus on:
- How well your lungs can take in and release air
- What may be causing breathing difficulties
- The severity of a known lung disease
- Effectiveness of a treatment plan
Spirometry and peak airflow tests are among the most commonly used pulmonary function tests, which measure how fast and how much air you can breathe in and out.
These tests can also be used to differentiate between an obstructive lung disease, such as COPD, and a restrictive lung disease, such as pulmonary fibrosis.
Blood Gas Tests
These tests measure the oxygen level in your blood in one of two ways. A sample of your blood is drawn and sent to a lab to be analyzed, which is called an arterial blood gas test. Or, a small device is used to measure your oxygen level in a pulse oximetry test, which does not require a needle. Pulse oximeters are also used to monitor oxygen saturation during an overnight saturation study.
This inhalation challenge test measures how sensitive your airways are by repeatedly measuring your breathing while you exercise, breathe in cold air, are exposed to allergens, or breathe in the chemical methacholine.
Cardiopulmonary Stress Testing
During exercise, this test evaluates your cardiovascular and respiratory systems at different levels of activity. Sometimes bronchoprovocation testing is also included to measure the sensitivity of your airways. The results from cardiopulmonary stress testing will show your doctor how your heart and lungs work together, and help differentiate between each of their limitations during exercise.
Diagnostic CT Screening
A diagnostic computed tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays to create 3-D images of the lungs. This test may be used to get a clear view of the chest area and look for infection, fluid or blood clots in the lungs.
During a lung PET scan, a technician injects a small amount of a radioactive substance into a vein in your arm. The PET scan tracks how quickly areas of your lungs absorb the substance, which indicates how well your lungs and surrounding tissues are working. The results are 3-D computer images that help your radiologist look for disease and get a more detailed view of your lungs.
Also called ultrasonography, ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of your organs, blood vessels and other structures in your body. Your doctor may recommend this test to check for fluid or other abnormalities in your lungs and chest area.
Ventilation Perfusion Lung Screening
This test uses small doses of radioactive substances to measure how well air circulates and blood flows through your lungs. Your doctor may use this test to look for blood clots in the lungs.