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Tests & Procedures : Lab Tests

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Pneumocystis Jirovecii (Tissue, Fluid)

Does this test have other names?

 P. jirovecii, PCP, pneumocystis pneumonia

What is this test?

This test looks for P. jirovecii fungus in your lung tissue or in fluid from a lung.

P. jirovecii causes pneumocystis pneumonia. Most people who are infected with P. jirovecii don't get pneumonia, though. People who do get it often have a weakened immune system. This can be because of:

  • AIDS/HIV, cancer, or another health problem

  • Medications that can weaken the immune system

  • Organ or stem-cell transplant

 P. jirovecii used to be known as Pneumocystis carinii.

Why do I need this test?

You might have this test if your doctor suspects that you have pneumonia caused by this fungus. Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing, especially when you exercise

  • Coughing

  • Fever

  • Tightness in the chest

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may also order other tests to help diagnose pneumonia. These include:

  • Blood tests to look for infections in your blood

  • X-ray or CT scan of your chest

  • Sputum test to look at the mucus that you have coughed up

  • Bronchoscopy to look inside your lungs

  • Pulse oximetry to measure the oxygen in your blood

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Normal results are negative, meaning that no P. jirovecii was found and that you don't have pneumonia caused by this fungus.

Positive results mean that P. jirovecii was found and that you may have pneumocystis pneumonia. Some healthy people, however, may carry the organism in their lungs without being sick.

If you are sick but your test results don't find P. jirovecii, you may have a different type of pneumonia caused by another organism.

How is this test done?

This test requires a sample of fluid or tissue from your lungs. Your doctor will collect lung fluid in a procedure called a bronchoalveolar lavage. He or she will place a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end through your mouth or nose and into your lungs. The doctor will gently spray saltwater into an area of lung to dislodge P. jirovecii and then collect the fluid.

To collect a tissue sample, your doctor will also use the long, flexible tube and camera. He or she may insert a needle or a tool called forceps to collect the sample.

Does this test pose any risks?

This test may pose some risks, including:

  • Bleeding from your respiratory tract when your doctor takes the sample

  • Hoarseness or sore throat

  • Low oxygen levels

  • Pain where the needle or tube was inserted

  • Infection

  • Collapsed lung , but this is quite rare

What might affect my test results?

Other factors aren't likely to affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You'll need to avoid eating and drinking for at least six to 12 hours before the test. In addition, be sure your doctor knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.