Children’s interstitial lung disease (chILD)

Diagnosing chILD

Diagnosing chILD can be difficult.

Your child may need to have different investigations to rule out other conditions as well as tests to diagnose chILD.

Your doctor will ask you about the medical history of your child and your family. They will listen to your child’s chest. They may also ask about where you live and your home environment. Make sure you get the most out of your doctor’s appointment.

If your doctor thinks that your child has chILD they will refer them for more tests to diagnose chILD and work out the best way to treat it.

  • X-rays. Your child may need an X-ray and a high resolution computer tomography (HRCT) scan.
  • Laboratory tests on your child’s blood, sweat, stool or mucus are used to rule out other possible conditions but can also give information to help diagnose chILD.
  • Measurements of oxygen levels in your child’s blood can be taken using a skin probe attached to your child’s finger, ear lobe or toe. It isn’t painful for them.
  • Breathing tests (infant pulmonary function test or infant PFT) may be used to test how your child’s lungs work. If your child is older they may be given a lung function test in a box called a plethysmograph. This is a box about the size of a phone box that your child will sit in. They will be asked to breathe out into a mouthpiece and then breathe in. The machine measures the amount of air your child’s lungs can hold.
  • Looking inside your child’s lungs. If other tests have not helped the doctor make a diagnosis, they may want to look inside your child’s lungs and possibly remove some cells or tissue for testing.
    • Bronchoscopy. A narrow, flexible tube with a camera on the end is used to look inside your child’s lungs.
    • Open lung biopsy. A surgeon makes a small cut in your child’s chest and removes some tissue from the lung under general anaesthetic. This can sometimes be done using keyhole surgery.

Find out more about diagnosing chILD.

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Last medically reviewed: September 2016. Due for review: September 2019

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.