Diagnostic Testing

Do you remember the last time you went to see a doctor after exhibiting certain symptoms or an injury? Chances are, your healthcare provider requested some sort of diagnostic test before they could treat you. What are medical diagnostic tests, and why should you consider getting these procedures the next time you’re at the hospital?

What are Medical Diagnostic Tests?

A medical diagnostic procedure is a test or examination used to pinpoint a health problem in someone who might be feeling sick. These tests can be used to diagnose medical conditions, illnesses, and various diseases.

For instance, if a healthcare provider suspects you could be suffering from peripheral arterial disease, they can request specific tests to diagnose the condition. In this case, some of the tests applicable include a duplex ultrasound, a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI), or a magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). These tests would help diagnose the condition and be used to determine which method of treatment would be best for you.

Diagnostic tests encompass a wide array of physical tests. These include both invasive and non-invasive examinations. Through diagnostic tests, healthcare providers can confirm the absence or presence of a disease in a patient.

ct scan

What is the Purpose of Medical Diagnostic Examinations?

Diagnostic testing is generally used to determine and discover any underlying issues. Traditionally, diagnostic tests such as urine, stool, blood, and tissue samples were taken in for testing. Then, your physician gave you the results. Now, technological advancements have allowed for a variety of instantaneous diagnostic tests.

Medical diagnostic tests are integral at every step of your treatment. These tests will include a diagnosis, screening, and prognosis to help determine any underlying causes. Here’s a breakdown of what each diagnostic test stage means during the treatment phase.

Diagnosis –

Diagnosis is the process of finding out precisely what the patient is suffering from. Initially, the healthcare professional may prescribe a diagnostic test to either affirm or rule out a particular condition.

If the condition is found from the diagnostic test, the doctor can then implement the appropriate treatment to combat the diagnosed disease. Additionally, the doctor may order other diagnostic tests to rule out commonly associated illnesses.

Subsequent diagnostic tests may be carried out to examine how effective a patient’s treatment plan is.

Screening –

Screening studies individuals who have yet to exhibit any symptoms or signs of a specific illness. Screening helps to understand if an infection is quietly developing. In addition, screening also helps to determine which medication and treatment plan would be most beneficial for the patient.

The main purpose of a screening test is not to diagnose a disease, but rather identify it as early as possible. Screening tests are crucial in early disease prevention. For example, you can be screened for certain types of cancers before you begin exhibiting symptoms. Catching diseases early can often be life-saving. 

Prognosis –

Prognosis allows medical professionals to assess the probability of a patient developing certain conditions in the future. Through prognostic tests, clinicians can help prevent the manifestation and development of specific conditions.

Genetic tests, for instance, can be used to analyze an individual’s chance of developing certain diseases. These tests help both the doctor and the patient pay more attention to discovering early tell-tale signs of a certain disease. Subsequently, prognostic tests can help to prevent certain health conditions.

What are Examples of Medical Diagnostic Tests?

A lower extremity atherectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure involving a catheter to remove plaque from arteries. The doctor usually makes a small incision in the artery to insert the catheter. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia to prevent pain. A catheter collects removed plaque in a chamber placed at its tip, ensuring that all the particles are removed from the artery. Depending on the amount of plaque in your arteries, your doctor will repeat the procedure several times to ensure optimal blood flow.

During a biopsy test, a small pieces of tissue from your body is extracted in order to run relevant tests. Biopsy tests can be used to diagnose various conditions.

What is the purpose of running biopsies?

The results of a biopsy can reveal a great deal in regards to your overall health. They can be used to determine if a lump in the body is cancerous or not. Biopsies can also be used to check kidney and liver diseases. Lastly, they can determine the progression and effectiveness of a disease and treatment.

There are various types of biopsy tests, depending on the body part being examined. The test may involve cutting the skin to remove a small part of an organ or tissue. Needles may also be used to extract tissue with local anesthetic when appropriate.

To prepare for a biopsy, you’ll need to get some more information from the healthcare provider. For instance, some biopsies may require you to fast for some time. Additionally, you may need to get a blood test done, which the doctor will notify you of. You could also be asked to take certain medications before the biopsy operation.

Serious side effects are rare after a biopsy. The spot where the incision was made may be a bit bruised and painful after the procedure, but this should disappear within a few days. Additionally, it’s equally rare to have any organ damage from a biopsy as they are exceptionally safe. However, if you have any adverse side effects after the biopsy, you’ll need to notify your healthcare professional.

Magnetic resonance imaging scans take comprehensive pictures inside the body. MRI scans are useful in diagnosing spine and joint injuries, tumors, soft tissue injuries, and internal conditions affecting organs like the heart and brain.

MRI scans are used frequently today as they can detect issues in the arteries and veins without the need for surgery. These scans can also be used to curate and monitor treatment in the aforementioned areas.

MRI scans provide detailed pictures, are non-invasive, and don’t have radiation. These features make the procedure highly sought-after. MRI scans examine bones, joints, breasts, the heart, blood vessels, the spine, and the brain.

These scans are safe and can even be used during pregnancy. However, in early pregnancy, you’ll need to inform the doctor before the procedure. During the procedure, you will need to lie still in a confined space for ten minutes or longer.

Since the MRI tests include magnetic technology, patients with certain implants may not be able to use the MRI machine. For example, patients with pacemakers can’t get an MRI scan as the magnet could react with metals in the pacemaker.

There are no distinguishable side-effects of getting an MRI examination done. The only limitations are implants and various foreign materials prohibited from the scanner. 

A CT scan is a type of x-ray test that creates comprehensive 3-dimensional images in the body. This includes images of internal organs, bones, tumors, and tissues. The CT scan machine moves in a circular motion taking x-ray images of your body part to create a cross-section picture.

CT scans are more comprehensive and show pictures in greater detail in comparison to 2-dimensional x-ray images. These scans can be used to diagnose various medical conditions. After an accident, for instance, CT scans can be used to determine internal bleeding and other conditions.

Any part of the body can be scanned. However-  the chest, head, pelvis, and abdomen are the most common. The scan can also be used on soft tissues, blood vessels, bones, and even the brain.

Due to their wide application, each CT scan can be vastly different. In most cases, you’ll be injected with contrast dye to improve the quality of the images.

During the procedure, you’ll be able to communicate with the radiographer, who’s usually in the other room. The CT scan test usually takes about 10 to 20 minutes. Any warmth caused by the contrast dye should fade in a few moments.

Some of the possible side-effects of a CT scan include an allergic reaction to the dye and exposure to radiation that may be carcinogenic. Additionally, if you are pregnant or suspect you could be, discuss this with the doctor before getting the procedure done.

X-rays use a small, safe amount of radiation to form a picture of the internal body. The beams produced by x-ray machines bounce off various organs and parts of the body to create an image. This process is also called radiography.

There are various types of x-rays, including fluoroscopy, plain radiography, CT scans, angiography, and mammography. X-ray tests can be used to diagnose injuries and diseases such as cancer, bone and chest conditions, bowel blockages, and foreign material.

To create the image, x-rays use very small amounts of radiation. However, some types of x-ray tests could include slightly higher doses of radiation. These include angiography and CT scans. Pregnant women should also notify the doctor before getting the procedure done.

With the help of sound waves, ultrasound scans help create images of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound tests are non-invasive and painless. This test is different from a typical x-ray examination as it doesn’t have traces of radiation.

There are various kinds of ultrasounds, including;

  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Echocardiogram
  • Bone sonographers
  • A transvaginal ultrasound
  • 3D and 4D ultrasounds.

Ultrasounds can be used to examine internal organs, ligaments, tendons, and blood lumps. The tests can also help monitor blood flow and assist with specific treatments.

An ultrasound is usually done in a few minutes. A hand-held transducer or scanner is used to roll over your body. The transducer is connected to a computer that projects the images of your internal body. 

A colonoscopy is more invasive in comparison to other types of diagnostic tests. During this diagnostic procedure, a flexible tube is inserted into the rectum from the anus. This flexible tube is used to monitor the colon. The colonoscope records images to help diagnose conditions such as cancer and irregular bowel syndrome.

In preparation for a colonoscopy exam, you may be required to modify your diet. Usually, the doctor will advise on what you can and can’t eat. A strong laxative may also be recommended before the procedure. As with any invasive procedure, you’re also advised to drink a lot of fluids.

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Get a medical diagnosis test today at Monterey Bay Vascular.

Are you worried you could be developing symptoms that are conducive to vascular disease? Or, are you worried you could be pre-exposed to an illness? It’s essential to get relevant diagnostic testing done to rule out anything serious.

At Monterey Bay Vascular, you can learn how to manage various health conditions as you get treatment for the same. Don’t wait until the symptoms get too much. Visit our facility today and get your diagnostic test today.