In making a diagnosis of asbestosis, your doctor will start by taking a detailed medical and occupational history, then conducting a thorough medical examination, which includes listening to your lungs with a stethoscope for crackling or high-pitched sounds that may indicate asbestosis.

The following tests may be conducted to make a definite diagnosis:

  • Chest X-ray — A chest X-ray may be taken to look for any abnormalities in your lungs. Asbestosis appears as excessive whiteness in your lung tissue.

  • Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) — This test involves a series of breathing maneuvers that measure the airflow and volume of air in your lungs, which allows your doctor to objectively assess the function of your lungs.
  • High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) — This is a special type of CT scan that provides your doctor with high-resolution images of your lungs and the pleura that surrounds them. The pleura are often scarred following asbestos exposure. Although this is not the same as asbestosis, it does indicate past exposure to the dust. These images are extremely valuable in determining which type of lung disease you have and whether or not occupational factors may be involved.

    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.
  • Bronchoscopy — This test involves the passage of a flexible fiberoptic scope about the diameter of a pencil into the lungs to obtain fluid and sometimes tissue samples to aid in diagnosis.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers


Pulmonary Practice at Parnassus
400 Parnassus Ave., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143-0359
Phone: (415) 353-2961
Fax: (415) 353-2568
Appointment information

Pulmonary Practice at Mount Zion
2330 Post St., Suite 420
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 885-7755
Fax: (415) 885-3852
Appointment information

Tobacco Treatment Center
1701 Divisadero Street, Suite 100
San Francisco, CA 94115
Phone: (415) 885-7895
Appointment information