Key points

Primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD) is a genetically and clinically heterogeneous disease characterised by abnormal motile ciliary function.

There is no “gold standard” diagnostic test for PCD.

The European Respiratory Society (ERS) Task Force Guidelines for diagnosing PCD recommend that patients should be referred for diagnostic testing if they have several of the following features: persistent wet cough; situs anomalies; congenital cardiac defects; persistent rhinitis; chronic middle ear disease with or without hearing loss; or a history, in term infants, of neonatal upper and lower respiratory symptoms or neonatal intensive care admission.

The ERS Task Force recommends that patients should be investigated in a specialist PCD centre with access to a range of complementary tests: nasal nitric oxide, high-speed video microscopy analysis and transmission electron microscopy. Additional tests including immunofluorescence labelling of ciliary proteins and genetic testing may also help determine the diagnosis.

Educational aims

This article is intended for primary and secondary care physicians interested in primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), i.e. those who identify patients for testing, and those involved in diagnosing and managing PCD patients. It aims:

to inform readers about the new European Respiratory Society Task Force Guidelines for diagnosing patients with PCD

to enable primary and secondary care physicians to: identify patients who need diagnostic testing; understand the diagnostic tests that their patients will undergo, the results of the tests and their limitations; and ensure that appropriate care is subsequently delivered.