How is bronchiectasis diagnosed?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Ethan E Emmons, MD; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Answer

In a typical patient, bronchiectasis is suspected on the basis of the clinical presentation, especially if purulent sputum is present and other conditions (eg, pneumonia, lung abscess) have been ruled out. A sputum analysis may be used to further strengthen clinical suspicion.

Radiographic studies, specifically CT scanning, then may be used to confirm the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, additional laboratory testing may be useful to determine the underlying cause. Although many causes are untreatable, identifying treatable conditions is paramount. In a significant percentage of patients, no readily identifiable cause is found.


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