Key points

  • A detailed clinical history should always be the first step in making a diagnosis.
  • Physical examination provides crucial clues to guide more advanced diagnostic procedures.
  • Microbiological, histological and cytological laboratory tests can diagnose or rule out a large number of diseases.
  • Respiratory function testing enables assessment of severity and monitoring of treatment, as well as giving diagnostic information.
  • A range of radiographic and other imaging techniques permit physicians to visualise problems within the chest, and can be used to guide more invasive investigations.

See the entire Principles of respiratory investigation Chapter