Last Updated on Mar 24, 2018

Diagnosis of COPD

COPD is diagnosed using pulmonary function tests, arterial blood gases determination, imaging studies and alpha-1 antitrypsin level measurement.

  • Pulmonary Function Tests: Pulmonary function tests help to diagnose COPD. These are of three types, spirometry, diffusion studies and body plethysmography. Of these, the most commonly used is the spirometry which consists of simple breathing tests conducted with the help of a small hand-held device called a spirometer
  • Arterial Blood Gases determination: Measuring the various gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood helps to estimate whether the lungs are functioning properly
  • Blood counts: The level of red blood cells may be high, which indicates that the person is suffering from low oxygen levels
  • Chest x-ray and CT scan: These imaging studies help to detect abnormalities in the respiratory tract
  • Alpha – 1 antitrypsin measurement: Measurement of alpha-1 antitrypsin levels helps to diagnose people suffering from alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency


  1. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine 17th edition
  2. Ján Tkác, S. F. Paul Man and Don D. Sin. Systemic consequences of COPD. Ther Adv Respir Dis (2007) 1(1) 47–59.

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