Fast Five Quiz: COPD Presentation and Diagnosis

Zab Mosenifar, MD


April 27, 2021

A CBC with differential may help to determine which patients are more likely to respond to inhaled corticosteroids on the basis of eosinophil thresholds.

Although pulse oximetry does not offer as much information as ABG analysis, when combined with clinical observation, this test can be a potent tool for immediate feedback on a patient's status. However, ABG analysis provides the greatest clues regarding the acuteness and severity of disease exacerbation.

Not only is HRCT more sensitive than standard chest radiography, it is also highly specific for diagnosing emphysema, because outlined bullae are not always evident on a radiograph. HRCT can also be a useful adjunct for diagnosing various forms of COPD (ie, lower-lobe disease may suggest alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency) and may help the clinician to ascertain whether surgical intervention would be beneficial for the patient.

Patients with COPD often have concomitant cardiac disease. Thus, electrocardiography is beneficial for establishing that hypoxia is not resulting in cardiac ischemia and that the underlying cause of respiratory difficulty is not cardiac in nature.

Learn more about the diagnosis of COPD.


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