Laboratory tests

Laboratory Tests: Definition, Reasons, and Procedures

What are laboratory tests?

Laboratory tests are medical procedures that are ordered by your doctor and involve the examination of small samples of urine, blood, or other bodily fluids, tissues or other substances found in the body.

A medical test is a procedure used by medical professionals to diagnose, detect or monitor diseases, a person’s susceptibility to diseases, disease processes and, most especially to find out what treatment is best suited for the patient. Most medical diagnostic tests are usually performed in a medical laboratory.

There are various types of medical tests based on what their test results will be used for, and these are diagnostic, screening, and evaluation. But for this article, we will be talking about diagnostic tests.

A laboratory test is a medical procedure that is used to confirm or determine the presence of a condition or disease in an individual. These tests are performed on the individual after having been suspected of having the condition, based on the symptoms he or she has shown, and can also be based on the results of previous related medical diagnostic tests.

Why does your doctor need lab tests?

Doctor's need the information they obtain from laboratory tests for many reasons. The results of these tests can help your doctor to:

  • know if your health is changing, even before you have any symptoms
  • diagnose a condition or a disease
  • plan your treatment, for example, know what medication to prescribe for you
  • find out if your condition is improving
  • monitor your health over long periods of time

How are the tests analyzed?

After the specimen or sample is collected, it is sent to a lab. These laboratories run specific tests on your sample to measure its response, if any, to certain substances. Reactions or lack of a reaction may mean you do or do not have a specific disease or condition. In other cases, the lab will compare your current results to prior tests to detect a change.

What do the tests reveal? 

In most cases, laboratory tests indicate if your results fall within a normal range, rather than providing a specific number. This is because "normal" for one person may not be "normal" for someone else. Some lab tests are very specific and precise, and others are used as a more general indicator of potential health concerns. Doctors often will order additional tests based on the results of lab tests, as more information is needed before a diagnosis can be made.

What factors affect lab test results?

There are many factors that can influence the result of lab tests. These may include:

  • age
  • sex
  • race
  • general health
  • medical history
  • medications you are taking
  • specific foods
  • differences in laboratory techniques and procedures

Types of Laboratory Tests

There are many types of medical diagnostic tests that a doctor can prescribe to a patient, depending on the symptoms being shown and the condition which is being suspected that the patient has. Some of the most common medical diagnostic tests, however, are listed below:

  1. CBC or Complete Blood Count – is a common blood test that is performed to diagnose a variety of different medical conditions such as an infection or anemia. The test is performed by a phlebotomist (a medical specialist) and is done by taking a blood specimen from your body through your finger, a vein in your arm, and in the case of infants, in the heel.
  2. MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging – is an imaging test that takes pictures of the insides of your body. The MRI can be compared to an X-ray but is much more detailed, including not only bones but muscles, nerves, bones and other organs.
  3. CAT or Computer Axial Tomography Scan- another imaging test that takes pictures inside your body, and can let doctors find out tumors, blood clots, and infections, as well as other diseases and conditions.
  4. Electrocardiogram or EKG
  5. Mammography
  6. Echocardiography
  7. Colonoscopy
  8. Prothrombin time
  9. Prostate Specific Antigen
  10. Bone Density Study

Risks of Laboratory Tests

Believe it or not, even medical diagnostic tests that are used to aid the treatment of a condition can also pose risks to the patient. Some medical tests are associated with health risks, which sometimes require general anesthesia. An example of this medical test procedures is a mediastinoscopy, a procedure that can visualize the insides of your mediastinum or the central part of your torso that contains various vital organs.

Although most medical tests, especially the basic ones such as blood tests and pap smears. do not really pose any risks whatsoever. What most patients need to worry about when it comes to medical diagnostic test risks, are the indirect risks it poses such as the stress involved in testing, and the continual testing into riskier test procedures as a result of false positive results.

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Questions & Answers
Q:
What is the best way to treat permanent back and neck pain and stiffness?
A:

Here are some tips:

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep with a cervical pillow

Orthopedic or cervical pillows are made with special contours to support the space beneath the neck and head. They are also more concave for the head and provide more support to the neck.

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep on your back

The best position to lie to sleep is on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or on your side, make sure your pillow is not too thick. It should raise your head no more than 4 to 6 inches. This will keep your neck and head from turning to either side.

Neck Pain Tips: Position your computer screen at eye level

While you are working at a computer, sit comfortably in your chair with your computer in front of you. Close your eyes and then open them. When you open your eyes, you should see the middle of the computer screen. If your gaze is not in the middle of the screen, adjust the height of the screen using items like books.

To keep your head from gradually drifting forward, take frequent breaks to stretch. Getting up to walk around at least once every half-hour is one of the best neck pain tips.

Neck Pain Tips: Use a telephone headset

Never hold a phone between your shoulder and your ear. Use a headset or other hands-free system to talk on the phone and avoid abusing your neck and spine.

Neck Pain Tips: Exercise your neck muscles

One of the best neck pain tips is using the chin tuck. You can do this often throughout the day. In addition to helping strengthen the muscles that hold the head in alignment over the shoulders, it also helps strengthen the scalene and sub-occipital muscles.

Read more tips here: Neck Pain Tips: Sleeping, Posture, Exercising, Hydration & Prevention

Read more
Temed Holdings
4 answers
Q:
What is the best treatment for neck pain and shoulder Pain?
A:

One of the best treatment for neck pain and shoulder pain is exercises:

Neck Pain Exercises: Neck Extension

  1. To begin this neck pain exercise, sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place the palm of your hand on the back of your neck, at the base of your head
  4. Apply slight forward pressure with your hand, while resisting the forward motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax
  6. Repeat the neck pain exercises 5-10 times

Neck pain exercises: Side bend

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place your left hand, palm down, on the left side of your head (around your ear)
  4. Slightly push your head to the right side with your hand, while resisting the sideways motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax.
  6. Repeat 5-10 times
  7. Repeat the neck pain exercises with the other side.

Neck pain exercises: Neck flexion

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place the tips of your fingers on your forehead
  4. Slightly push your head backward with your fingers, while resisting the backward motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax.
  6. Repeat the neck pain exercises 5-10 times

More exercises here: Neck Pain Exercises

Read more
Temed Holdings
4 answers
Q:
How do I reduce the shoulder and neck pain?
A:

Here are some tips:

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep with a cervical pillow

Orthopedic or cervical pillows are made with special contours to support the space beneath the neck and head. They are also more concave for the head and provide more support to the neck.

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep on your back

The best position to lie to sleep is on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or on your side, make sure your pillow is not too thick. It should raise your head no more than 4 to 6 inches. This will keep your neck and head from turning to either side.

Neck Pain Tips: Position your computer screen at eye level

While you are working at a computer, sit comfortably in your chair with your computer in front of you. Close your eyes and then open them. When you open your eyes, you should see the middle of the computer screen. If your gaze is not in the middle of the screen, adjust the height of the screen using items like books.

To keep your head from gradually drifting forward, take frequent breaks to stretch. Getting up to walk around at least once every half-hour is one of the best neck pain tips.

Neck Pain Tips: Carry weight evenly

Many people make the mistake of carrying a heavy briefcase or their purse on their shoulder or on one side of their body. Doing this causes strain in the muscles and leads to pain.

Remove non-essentials from your briefcase or purse. Consider using a backpack to evenly distribute the weight across your shoulders. If you choose to carry a purse or backpack, keep your shoulders level while carrying it.

Neck Pain Tips: Maintain a proper posture

The most common posture contributing to neck pain is the “head-and-shoulders-forward” posture. In this position, the neck slopes forward, putting the head in front of the shoulders.

In this position, the head pulls the upper back forward also in a slumped position. This places a strain on the entire spinal column.

More tips here: Neck Pain Tips: Sleeping, Posture, Exercising, Hydration & Prevention

Read more
Temed Holdings
4 answers