Diagnosis

There's no specific test to identify ARDS. The diagnosis is based on the physical exam, chest X-ray and oxygen levels. It's also important to rule out other diseases and conditions — for example, certain heart problems — that can produce similar symptoms.

Imaging

  • Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray can reveal which parts of your lungs and how much of the lungs have fluid in them and whether your heart is enlarged.
  • Computerized tomography (CT). A CT scan combines X-ray images taken from many different directions into cross-sectional views of internal organs. CT scans can provide detailed information about the structures within the heart and lungs.

Lab tests

A test using blood from an artery in your wrist can measure your oxygen level. Other types of blood tests can check for signs of infection or anemia. If your doctor suspects that you have a lung infection, secretions from your airway may be tested to determine the cause of the infection.

Heart tests

Because the signs and symptoms of ARDS are similar to those of certain heart problems, your doctor may recommend heart tests such as:

  • Electrocardiogram. This painless test tracks the electrical activity in your heart. It involves attaching several wired sensors to your body.
  • Echocardiogram. A sonogram of the heart, this test can reveal problems with the structures and the function of your heart.
May 09, 2017
References
  1. What is ARDS? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ards/#. Accessed Jan. 26, 2017.
  2. Goldman L, et al., eds. Acute respiratory failure. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 26, 2017.
  3. Ferri FF. Acute respiratory distress syndrome. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2017. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 26, 2017.
  4. Siegel MD. Acute respiratory distress syndrome: Prognosis and outcomes in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 26, 2017.
  5. Mason RJ, et al. Acute hypoxemic respiratory failure and ARDS. In: Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 26, 2017.
  6. AskMayoExpert. Acute respiratory distress syndrome. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2016.
  7. Siegel MD. Acute respiratory distress syndrome: Clinical features and diagnosis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 26, 2017.
  8. Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.