Acute bronchitis laboratory tests

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Seyedmahdi Pahlavani, M.D. [2]; Nate Michalak, B.A.


Diagnostic tests are rarely needed to confirm the diagnosis of acute bronchitis. In very specific conditions, serologic tests, viral cultures or sputum analyses may be applied. Generally, inflammatory markers such as CRP rise during the course of acute bronchitis.

Laboratory Tests

  • Diagnostic tests are rarely needed to confirm the diagnosis of acute bronchitis.
  • Viral cultures, serologic assays, and sputum analyses may be perform when a potentially treatable infection is thought to be circulating or for epidemiological purposes.[1]

Serologic assays


  • Procalcitonin level is helpful to distinguish bacterial from other causes of inflammation. During bacterial infections, the level of procalcitonin will rise over 0.25 mg/L and indicates prescription of antibiotics.[2][3][4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wenzel RP, Fowler AA (2006). "Clinical practice. Acute bronchitis". N. Engl. J. Med. 355 (20): 2125–30. doi:10.1056/NEJMcp061493. PMID 17108344.
  2. Schuetz P, Christ-Crain M, Thomann R, Falconnier C, Wolbers M, Widmer I, Neidert S, Fricker T, Blum C, Schild U, Regez K, Schoenenberger R, Henzen C, Bregenzer T, Hoess C, Krause M, Bucher HC, Zimmerli W, Mueller B (2009). "Effect of procalcitonin-based guidelines vs standard guidelines on antibiotic use in lower respiratory tract infections: the ProHOSP randomized controlled trial". JAMA. 302 (10): 1059–66. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1297. PMID 19738090.
  3. Briel M, Schuetz P, Mueller B, Young J, Schild U, Nusbaumer C, Périat P, Bucher HC, Christ-Crain M (2008). "Procalcitonin-guided antibiotic use vs a standard approach for acute respiratory tract infections in primary care". Arch. Intern. Med. 168 (18): 2000–7, discussion 2007–8. doi:10.1001/archinte.168.18.2000. PMID 18852401.
  4. Gilbert DN (2011). "Procalcitonin as a biomarker in respiratory tract infection". Clin. Infect. Dis. 52 Suppl 4: S346–50. doi:10.1093/cid/cir050. PMID 21460294.

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