Lung cysts alone do not normally affect breathing, so many patients don’t even know they have them. The only way to tell if you have lung cysts is to have a chest scan.
BHD experts recommend that BHD patients should have a high resolution CT scan when they are first diagnosed, to show how many cysts are present. There is no need for follow up scans if a patient has no further issues with their lungs, such as a pneumothorax.
Even if you have cysts, you may never experience a collapsed lung and therefore may never need treatment for your lung symptoms.
When you are first admitted to hospital, your doctor may use a stethoscope to listen to your lungs before ordering a scan. This is most likely to be a chest X-ray, although CT and ultrasound scanning can also be used to diagnose a collapsed lung.
You may have an arterial blood gas analysis to measure the amount of oxygen in your blood. For this test, a needle is inserted into an artery, usually at the wrist, to collect a small blood sample. This test can cause moderate discomfort compared to a normal blood test. However, local anaesthetic can be used during this procedure, and any discomfort passes quickly after the test has finished.
Publication date: December 2014
Review date: May 2021