Diagnosis of Beryllium Disease

Your doctor starts with your medical history, occupational background, and medical examinations when making diagnosis of beryllium disease specifically chronic beryllium disease or CBD.

CBD is an occupational lung disease caused by extended exposure to beryllium. Oftentimes without any specific occupational history and testing, CBD may be misdiagnosed as sarcoidosis which is identical to the former.

Beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test

The most important diagnostic test is the beryllium lymphocyte proliferation test (BeLPT). It is a simple blood test that determines the reaction of your immune system to beryllium. A positive result will indicate that you have beryllium exposure and sensitization and may require additional tests for a more accurate diagnosis.

Diagnostic procedures for CBD positive patients

You will be required to undergo the following procedures when you have been exposed to beryllium.

  • Chest X-ray will be required to spot any abnormalities in your lungs.
  • Pulmonary Function Testing (PFT) measures the airflow and volume of air in your lungs. The test will involve a series of drills on breathing so that your doctor can give an objective assessment of the functions of your lungs.
  • High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) is a special CT scanning procedure to determine the type of occupational lung disease you have. It is quite the same as the regular CT scan. It only takes a few minutes and also preformed in an open-air table.
  • Bronchoscopy uses a small but flexible fiberoptic scope inserted into the lungs to get fluid sample and tissue samples for diagnosing CBD.
  • The induced sputum (IS) tests patient’s sputum which can be used for BeLPT test performed in the same way as blood samples.
  • Lung biopsy is performed after the chest X-ray or high resolution computed tomography (HRCT) has detected abnormalities or tissue granuloma formation in the lung. This lung biopsy is done to establish if lung cancer cells are present. It uses tissue sample of the lung and examines the sample through a microscope.