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Investigations in chronic bronchitis

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Evaluation to assist in confirmation of the diagnosis of chronic bronchitis include (1):

  • CBC with differential
  • Serum procalcitonin – differentiate bacterial from non-bacterial
  • Chest x-ray – especially in elderly or when physical findings suggestive of pneumonia
  • Sputum culture – when bacterial infection is suspected
  • Other helpful tests – oxygen saturation, pulmonary function test

Investigations will usually demonstrate:

  • hypercapnia
  • hypoxaemia with polycythaemia
  • elevated plasma bicarbonate
  • sometimes severe nocturnal hypoxaemia
  • moderate airways obstruction
  • approximately normal lung capacity
  • little or no reduction in transfer factor


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