Diagnostic Testing Methods

Diagnostic Testing Methods

Diagnostic Testing Methods - There are various methods that doctors can use to detect mesothelioma and determine the location and severity of the condition. Several of these diagnostic methods are covered below.
  1. Imaging Techniques
  2. Pathology Tests
  3. Pulmonary Function Tests (PFT)
1. Imaging Techniques

Imaging techniques refers to various ways a doctor can view the internal organs to detect cancerous growths as well as fluid accumulation.


A standard chest x-ray is often the first imaging technique used to detect mesothelioma. The x-ray can reveal abnormal thickening of the pleura, the protective membrane surrounding the lungs. A chest x-ray can also reveal fluid accumulation in the lungs and abdominal cavity, mineral deposits and other irregular masses, and lowering of the lung fissures (spaces between each lung).


A CT scan provides doctors with a much more distinct, cross-sectional image of a patient's internal organs. The CT scan allows for a more detailed analysis of organs potentially affected by mesothelioma.


An MRI uses a combination of radio waves and a strong magnetic field to scan a patient's body in order to produce a series of cross-sectional images. An MRI scan allows for greater analysis of soft tissues, helping determine the extent and severity of damage caused by mesothelioma.


A PET scan produces images of the patient's biological functions to help detect areas of abnormal metabolic activity and active disease. The PET scan allows doctors to identify benign and malignant cells and pinpoint minute cancerous cells. This scan can also be used to monitor the efficacy of current treatments a patient is undergoing.

2. Pathology Tests

Pathology tests refer to various methods of tissue sample and/or fluid sample analysis that doctors can use to diagnose diseases.


A bronchoscopy is used to detect pleural mesothelioma. During a broncoscopy, a small, flexible, fiber optic tube is inserted into a patient's airways through the nose or mouth. The doctor then examines the bronchi in order to detect abnormal growths or masses. Tissues samples may be taken during a bronchoscopy for further testing.


A laparoscopy is used to detect peritoneal mesothelioma. During a laparoscopy, a small, flexible, fiber optic tube is inserted into the abdominal cavity through a small incision. The doctor then examines the abdominal cavity for any abnormal growths or fluid accumulated. Fluid samples may be collected during a laparoscopy for further testing.


A mediastinoscopy is used to check for mesothelioma and to examine the lymph nodes in order to ensure that a patient's mesothelioma has not spread from its original point of origin. During a mediastinoscopy, a small, flexible, fiber optic tube is inserted under a patient's sternum and into the chest area to examine the condition of the lymph nodes and identify any fluid accumulation or abnormal growths. Tissues samples may be taken during a mediastinoscopy for further testing


A thoracoscopy is used to obtain a tissue sample of pericardial or pleural tissue to check for cancer. During a thoracoscopy, a thoracoscope is inserted into a patient's chest cavity through a small incision. The doctor can identify cancerous tissue and safely extract this tissue for further testing during this procedure.

3. Pulmonary Function Tests (PFT)

Pulmonary function tests (PFT), also referred to as lung function tests, refer to a wide variety of tests that doctors us to determine the overall health of a patient's respiratory system.


A spirometry is the first of the pulmonary function tests performed. This test determines the rate at which a patient moves air out of his or her lungs. This data is gathered by a recording device called a spirometer and is placed in a chart called a spirogram.


A residual volume test measures the amount of air left in a patient's lungs after the patient has completely exhaled to the best of his or her ability.


A gas diffusion test determines how well gases are absorbed into a patient's blood from his or her lungs. This is done by measuring the amount of oxygen and other gases that cross a patient's alveoli (air sacs in the lungs) each minute.


A body plethysmography test determines a patient's total lung capacity, or the maximum amount of air the patient's lungs can hold.


An inhalation challenge test is performed to determine substances that may cause a patient severe asthma or allergies.


An exercise stress test helps determine the effects of exercise on pulmonary function tests. A spirometry test is used to read a patient after exercise and at rest. Proper diagnosis of mesothelioma is imperative to the success of treatment and the overall prognosis of the victim.

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