Diagnostic Tools

Lung function tests rarely make the IPF diagnosis but give doctors information about the pattern of lung disease and are important to measure or quantify the impairment or how bad the lung disease is. They are useful to follow the disease progression.

Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT)

This involves a series of breathing tests that measure your lungs’ airflow, the volume of air in your lungs, and the ability of your lungs to transfer oxygen from the air

High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT)

HRCT is a special type of x-ray that provides your doctor with high-resolution images of your lungs. CT scans can be useful for both diagnosis and to follow the progression of IPF.

Both of these procedures are performed on an open-air table and take only a few minutes. Images may be taken in several different ways:

  • While you are lying on your back
  • Lying on your chest
  • While having you breathe air out of your lungs

Blood Tests

Blood tests that will look for various antibodies, may be needed to see if you have a connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma

Six Minute Walk Test

This test looks at the distance you can walk in 6 minutes and the amount of oxygen in your body tissues you have while walking. This is measured by a probe clipped on to your finger or earlobe


In this test, a flexible scope, about the size of a pencil, is passed through your mouth and down your ‘breathing tube’ into your lungs to get fluid and tissue samples. Your doctor will ‘numb’ the back of your throat and give you medication, if needed, to make you comfortable during this procedure. This is an outpatient procedure, so you will not need to stay overnight in the hospital

Surgical Lung Biopsy

Some patients will need to have a lung biopsy to confirm that they have IPF. A lung biopsy is a surgical procedure usually done with small tools and cameras through three or four one inch long incision in the side of the chest. They are performed by a chest surgeon, under general anesthetic. You will need to stay a few days in the hospital after the procedure