Asbestosis can be difficult to diagnose because its signs and symptoms are similar to those of many other types of respiratory diseases. A variety of diagnostic tests might be needed to help pinpoint the diagnosis.

Imaging tests

  • Chest X-ray. Advanced asbestosis appears as excessive whiteness in your lung tissue. If the asbestosis is severe, the tissue in both lungs might be affected, giving them a honeycomb appearance.
  • Computerized tomography (CT). CT scans combine a series of X-ray views taken from many different angles to produce cross-sectional images of the bones and soft tissues inside your body. These scans generally provide greater detail and might help detect asbestosis in its early stages, even before it shows up on a chest X-ray.

Pulmonary function tests

These tests determine how well your lungs are functioning. Pulmonary function tests measure how much air your lungs can hold and the airflow in and out of your lungs.

During the test, you might be asked to blow as hard as you can into an air-measurement device called a spirometer. More-complete pulmonary function tests can measure the amount of oxygen being transferred to your bloodstream.