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Diagnosing Cystic Fibrosis

The Adult Cystic Fibrosis Program provides a full range of diagnostic and treatment services for adults.


Although most adults with CF are diagnosed with the disease as children or teens, some mild cases of CF may not be detected until later in life. At the University of Chicago Cystic Fibrosis Center, we offer a range of tests to diagnose the disease and monitor it over time.

Sweat Testing

Sweat tests measure the amount of salt in sweat and can diagnose CF, as a high salt level confirms that a patient has CF.

Lung Function Tests

Our pulmonary function laboratory provides a full range of tests that measure different aspects of lung function. Some of the tests available for CF patients include:

  • Spirometry, which measures the volume and speed of air moving out of your lungs
  • Pulse oximetry and arterial blood gas testing for measuring oxygen in your blood

Other Tests

Our team may recommend other tests, such as

  • Chest or sinus X-rays
  • Sputum cultures check for bacteria in sputum (spit) that can be signs of advanced CF
  • High-resolution computed tomography (CT) to inspect the airways for progression of CF

Genetic Testing and Counseling

We offer genetic testing to determine if you or your partner carries the genetic mutations that cause CF. If you are planning a pregnancy and have a family history of CF, you may want to get tested.

Our team also can help coordinate prenatal screening to determine if your fetus as CF.

Our genetic counselors are available to answer questions and assist you and your family along the way.