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Emphysema Diagnosis
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Emphysema Diagnosis

Hi, I'm pretty upset about the news we just got, and was wondering if anyone could clear things up for me. The drs office just called to say my husband has emphysema after a chest x-ray. The blood test he had before that showed an elevated WBC count.

My questions are, after that blood test, why did they assume he needed an x-ray of the chest? Why didn't they look for any of the other causes? Also, can this be correctly diagnosed from these two tests? Thank you very much.
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Emphysema can be suggested by a chest x-ray but the definitive test is spirometry.  This simple breathing test provides detailed information about how your lungs are working.  Basing the diagnosis solely on an x-ray is unwise.  An elevated white blood cell (WBC) count is not associated with emphysema.  An elevated red blood cell (RBC) count, hemoglobin or hematocrit can be associated with emphysema, more often referred to as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

If his WBC was elevated, the first thing to do is to repeat the test.  If it is truly elevated, the next step is to determine the type and cause of the elevation and that could require a bone-marrow examination.
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