Diagnosing sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis can be difficult to diagnose.

It shares symptoms with lots of other diseases and you may not even have any obvious symptoms. This means it can take a while to get a diagnosis.

You might need to have a few different tests, depending on which parts of your body are affected.

Pulmonary sarcoidosis

If it looks like sarcoidosis is affecting your lungs, you’ll probably have a chest X-ray or CT scan. A CT scan uses a special X-ray machine to produce a detailed image of the inside of your body. In most cases, this is enough to find out if you have sarcoidosis.

In some cases, the doctor may want to examine the inside of your lungs more closely by doing a bronchoscopy. This is done using a bronchoscope – a thin, flexible tube with a light and a very small camera at one end. The tube is passed through your nose or mouth, down your windpipe and into your lungs.

The procedure isn’t painful, but it can cause coughing. It’s often done under sedation with a local anaesthetic. Your doctor will be able to give you more details when they discuss the test with you.

During the procedure, your doctor may take a sample of tissue from your lungs. This can be examined under a microscope to see if there are any granulomas. This is called a biopsy.

Some centres prefer to do this using an EBUS-TBNA procedure. The doctor uses a special kind of bronchoscope with ultrasound to see inside your lungs and take a tissue sample. This procedure takes slightly longer than a standard bronchoscopy. But in centres which perform the test regularly, it’s more likely to give a clear diagnosis than a standard bronchoscopy.

Sarcoidosis in other parts of your body

You may have blood tests, urine tests or a biopsy of the affected area. You may also have an electrocardiogram, sometimes called an ECG, which is a simple test that records the rhythm of your heart.

If you’re diagnosed with sarcoidosis in one part of your body, other parts of your body may also be affected. Further tests will help to show how different parts of your body are affected.

Next: Treatment for sarcoidosis >


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Last medically reviewed: January 2017. Due for review: January 2020

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.