Diagnostic Tests and Procedures

Laboratory Tests

A laboratory test is a procedure in which a sample of blood, urine, other bodily fluids or tissue is examined to get information about a person’s health. Some laboratory tests provide precise and reliable information about specific health problems. Other tests provide more general information that helps doctors identify or rule out possible health problems. Doctors often use other types of tests, such as imaging tests, in addition to laboratory tests to learn more about a person’s health. Some of the most common tests are listed below.

Blood Tests:

A blood test is a lab analysis of the elements in your blood. Blood tests can give your doctor a lot of information about whether certain elements in your blood fall within a normal range. They are most commonly ordered during routine check-ups and sick visits. However, in many cases, they are only part of the information your doctor needs to make a diagnosis or monitor your health condition. Blood tests are also ordered for other reasons including but not limited to:

  • Diagnose bleeding or clotting disorders
  • Diagnose how well important organs such as your kidneys, liver, heart, or thyroid are working
  • Diagnose if your immune system is having problems fighting infections
  • Diagnose if your medicine is properly working
Blood tests usually take place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. Blood tests usually take less than 5 minutes to complete. Check with your doctor for further details.
  • Liver Function Test: Liver function tests are a type of blood tests used to diagnose and monitor liver disease or damage. Liver function tests can also be used to:
    • Measure the severity of a disease, particularly scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
    • Monitor possible side effects of medications
    • Monitor the progression of a disease, such as viral or alcoholic hepatitis, and determine how well a treatment is working
    • Screen for liver infections, such as hepatitis
  • Thyroid Function Tests: Thyroid function tests are a type of blood tests used to diagnose whether your thyroid gland is working properly. The thyroid is a small gland located in the lower-front part of your neck. It’s responsible for helping to regulate many of the body’s processes, such as metabolism, energy generation, and mood. The thyroid produces two major hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). If your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of these hormones (hypothyroidism), you may experience symptoms such as weight gain, lack of energy, and depression. If your thyroid gland produces too many hormones (hyperthyroidism), you may experience weight loss, high levels of anxiety, tremors, and a sense of being on a high.

Throat Culture:

A throat culture is a test to find germs (such as bacteria or a fungus) that are causing an infection. Your doctor will probably order this test if you or your child complains of a sore throat and he or she thinks something other than a virus is to blame. As a part of the test, your doctor will rub a sterile cotton swab across the back of your throat, your tonsils, and any other sore areas for a few seconds. The swab will collect a sample of the secretions being produced in the back of your throat. This sample is then added to a substance that promotes the growth of germs. If no germs grow, the culture is negative. If germs that can cause infection grow, the culture is positive.

A throat culture test usually takes place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. This type of test usually takes less than 5 minutes to complete. Check with your doctor for further details.

Urinalysis:

Urinalysis is a series of tests performed on your urine as a way to detect potential illnesses or disorders. Many illnesses and disorders affect how your body removes waste and toxins. The excretory system is the one responsible for removing such substances. The excretory system includes your lungs, kidneys, urinary tract, skin, and bladder. Problems with any of these body parts can affect the appearance, concentration, and content of your urine. Overall a urinalysis provides a way to identify certain illnesses in their earlier stages, including but not limited to: kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes and a urinary tract infection (UTI).

A urinalysis usually takes place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. Blood tests usually take less than 5 minutes to complete. Check with your doctor for further details.

Genetic Testing:

Genetic testing involves examining your DNA, the chemical database that carries instructions for your body's functions. Genetic testing can reveal changes in your chromosomes, genes, or proteins. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person’s chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. Genetic tests are performed on a sample of blood, hair, skin, amniotic fluid (the fluid that surrounds a fetus during pregnancy), or other tissue.

Genetic testing usually takes place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. Genetic tests usually take less than 5 minutes to complete. Check with your doctor for further details.

Biopsy:

A biopsy is a procedure performed to remove tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope. Biopsies are performed in many areas of the body and for many reasons. Some of the most common areas include: abdomen, bone, bone marrow, breast, kidney, liver, lung or chest, lymph node, muscle, nerve, skin and thyroid.

Removal of tissue or cells from the body can be performed in several different ways. Some biopsies involve removing a small amount of tissue with a needle while others involve surgically removing an entire lump that is suspicious.

Biopsies are most often done to look for cancer. But biopsies can help identify many other conditions such as infections and inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. Biopsies may also be done to match organ tissue before a transplant and to look for signs of organ rejection following a transplant.

Some biopsies can take place in an outpatient setting (e.g. doctor’s office) or at the hospital. Lung and myocardial biopsies however only take place at a hospital. The time it takes to obtain a biopsy depends on the type of biopsy being performed. Check with your doctor for further details.

  • Lung-Biopsy: A lung biopsy is a procedure in which samples of lung tissue are removed to determine if lung disease or cancer is present. Other reasons for a lung biopsy include but are not limited to:
    • To evaluate an abnormality seen on chest x-rays or CT scans
    • To diagnose lung infection or other lung disease
    • To investigate the cause of unexplained fluid collection in the lung
    • To determine if a lung mass is cancerous or not
    • To determine the extent of the cancer spreading
  • Myocardial Biopsy: A myocardial biopsy is a procedure where a doctor takes a few small samples of your heart muscle tissue for examination. This is done if your doctor suspects a problem with your heart muscle. A cardiac biopsy can help your doctor diagnose:
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