In making a diagnosis of sarcoidosis, your doctor will begin by conducting a thorough physical examination, asking about any symptoms you are experiencing, including when they started and how they've progressed or eased over time. Your full medical history will also be recorded.
There is no singular finding that confirms a diagnosis of sarcoidosis. Therefore, the diagnosis is based on multiple factors, including symptoms, abnormalities on a chest X-ray or CT scan, and microscopic examination of one or more specimens from involved tissues or organs.
In addition, you may also have the following tests to help rule out other conditions, such as tuberculosis, which cause similar symptoms as sarcoidosis, and to make a definite diagnosis.
- Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) — This test involves a series of breathing maneuvers that measure the airflow and volume of air in your lungs. This allows your doctor to objectively assess the function of your lungs. PFT is recommended for all patients.
- High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) — This is a special type of CT scan that provides your doctor with high-resolution images of your lungs that are extremely valuable in determining which type of Interstitial Lung Disease you have. Having a HRCT is no different than having a regular CT scan; they both are performed on an open-air table and take only a few minutes. HRCT is recommended for all patients.
- Six Minute Walk Testing — This test is a formal evaluation of the distance you can walk and the oxygen saturations (measured by finger or ear probe) you achieve while walking. This is an important marker of functional status used by your doctor in managing your condition. The six minute walking test is recommended for all patients.
- Bronchoscopy — This test involves the passage of a flexible fiberoptic scope about the diameter of a pencil into the lungs to obtain fluid and tissue samples to aid in diagnosis. This test is an outpatient procedure, which means you do not have to stay overnight in the hospital, and is performed by your doctor. Bronchoscopy is recommended for some patients.
Once your diagnosis is made, additional tests may be needed to determine the stage and severity of your disease. These may include tests to check for sarcoidosis involving other organs.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.