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. It is spread through the air from someone who is infected with it. 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
Medicines 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 healthcare provider suspects that you have pneumonia caused by this fungus. Symptoms include:
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may also order other tests to help diagnose pneumonia. These include:
Blood tests to look for infections in your blood
Arterial blood gases
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
Thoracentesis to look at the fluid leaking from 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 healthcare 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 healthcare provider 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 (bronchoscope) through your mouth or nose and into your lungs. The provider will gently spray saltwater into an area of lung to dislodge P. jirovecii and then collect the fluid.
To collect a tissue sample, your healthcare provider will also use the bronchoscope. 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 healthcare provider takes the sample
Hoarseness or sore throat
Low oxygen levels
Pain where the needle or tube was inserted
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 6 to 12 hours before the test. In addition, be sure your healthcare provider 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.
- Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
- Hanrahan, John, MD