Lung Abscess at 40x Magnification
Since the symptoms of a lung abscess are similar to pneumonia and other lung disorders, testing must be carried out to produce a definitive diagnosis. Most abscesses can be identified in a chest x-ray, though sometimes computed tomography (CT) scans are necessary. CT scans can also sometimes provide information regarding the cause of the condition. In other cases, sputum smears and cultures can be helpful in determining the cause of an abscess. However, because of the microorganisms that are normally present in the mouth and throat, expectorated sputum is not useful for analyses, so that samples must be obtained via specialized techniques. As a result, some sputum tests are often not carried out unless traditional abscess treatments are ineffective.