What is Medical Diagnostic Tests?
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 diagnostic 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.
Most Common Medical Diagnostic 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Electrocardiogram or EKG
- Prothrombin time
- Prostate Specific Antigen
- Bone Density Study
What are the Risks Involved in Medical Diagnostic 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.
What are some of the Indications of Medical Diagnostic Tests?
Each medical diagnostic test has its very own indications as well as contraindications. Indications are valid medical reasons that warrant a performance of the test. A contraindication, on the other hand, can be a valid medical reason to warrant the rejection of the test.
A good example of this would be in a basic cholesterol test. The cholesterol test when performed may be indicated or medically appropriate for a middle-aged person. But when the same procedure was done on the same person only very recently, then the very existence of the previous test can be treated as a contraindication to performing the same test again.
What are some of the Results of Medical Diagnostic Tests?
Mainly, the result of a medical diagnostic test that is aimed at the detection of a condition can either be positive or negative. These kinds of tests are usually not an indication of how worse your condition is, and is usually just aimed at a binary classification if you have the condition or not. Hence it is only geared to finding out if a certain parameter that was the target of the evaluation was present or not.
For example, in a breast cancer test or an HIV test, if the screening test comes up as negative, then it means that the person possesses no sign of having the condition (which can be a cause for celebration)
In other cases, however, such as in a blood test, the result is not only aimed at knowing if a target entity is present or absent in your body but also how much of it is present.
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