Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
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New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms. If symptoms suggest pneumonia, your doctor will ask about your medical history, travel history, and other related exposures. A physical exam usually includes tapping on your chest and back. This may identify the presence of fluid or air trapped in your lungs. The doctor will also listen carefully to your chest and back with a stethoscope.
Your doctor may choose to order a variety of tests, such as:
Imaging tests are used to evaluate the lungs and surrounding tissues. Pneumonia may be detected through imaging, though there are times when it may not show up.
Canadian Critical Care Trials Group. A randomized trail of diagnostic techniques for ventilator-associated pneumonia. N Engl J Med. 2006;355(25):2619-2630.
Community-acquired pneumonia in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115170/Community-acquired-pneumonia-in-adults. Accessed November 10, 2020.
Community-acquired pneumonia in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113670/Community-acquired-pneumonia-in-children. Accessed November 10, 2020.
Diagnosis. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pnu/diagnosis. Accessed November 10, 2020.
Diagnosing and treating pneumonia. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/pneumonia/diagnosing-and-treating.html. Accessed November 10, 2020.
Lutfiyya MN, Henley E, Chang LF, Reyburn SW. Diagnosis and treatment of community-acquired pneumonia. Am Fam Physician. 2006;73(3):442-450.
Mayer J. Laboratory diagnosis of nosocomial pneumonia. Semin Respir Infect. 2000;15(2):119-131.
Murphy, CG, van de Pol, Harper MB, Bachur RG. Clinical predictors of occult pneumonia in the febrile child. Acad Emerg Med. 2007;4:(3)243-249.
Last reviewed January 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated:1/21/2020