Understanding Laboratory Testing & Medical Diagnostic Services

If you are sick or injured, your doctor may run a variety of different tests to determine what the cause is. There are many different types of laboratory tests and medical diagnostic services that can help your doctor to determine what the cause of your illness or injury is and how to best treat it.

Keep reading to find more about a few of the most common types of laboratory tests and diagnostic services.

CBC Blood Test

A complete blood count is a type of blood test. It is used to detect a variety of different disorders. A complete blood count blood test can also be used to check on a patient’s overall health. It can be also used to check for anemia, leukemia, and infection. This type of blood test measures your red blood cells, white blood cells, hemoglobin levels, hematocrit, and platelets. If a complete blood count test shows abnormal increases or decreases in cell counts, your doctor will want to further investigate to determine the cause. A complete blood count test may be performed to monitor a health condition or medical treatment.

White Blood Cell Count (WBC)

A white blood cell count is a type of blood test that measures a person’s white blood cells. This test is often performed as part of a complete blood count. There are different kinds of white blood cells with different functions. White blood cells include five different types. White blood cells originate in the marrow of the bone. After their creation they move throughout the body via the bloodstream. White blood cells are very important and are part of the immune system. They help to fight infections because they attack bacteria, viruses, and germs that may harm the body. If a person has a higher or lower number of white blood cells, they may have an underlying health condition which may include autoimmune disease, immune deficiencies, and blood conditions. White blood cell counts may also be used to monitor the effectiveness of certain treatments including chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Hemoglobin Levels

Hemoglobin is a type of protein found in red blood cells. When oxygen enters the lungs, it will attach to the hemoglobin in the blood and carry it through to body tissues. Hemoglobin also helps red blood cells move easily through the blood vessels by giving them a disc shape. Hemoglobin levels are measured through a blood test. Low levels of hemoglobin in the blood means that there is also a low level of oxygen. It also can be a sign of anemia. There are different types of anemia including iron-deficiency anemia, pregnancy-related anemia, vitamin-deficiency anemia, aplastic anemia, hemolytic anemia and sickle cell anemia. High levels of hemoglobin in the blood could be a sign of a rare blood disease called polycythemia. It can lead to the blood becoming thicker which could cause clots, strokes and heart attacks. High hemoglobin levels can also be due to dehydration, smoking, lung disease, heart disease and more. Based on blood tests results, the doctor will determine what the best treatment options are for the patient.

CT Scan

A computerized tomography scan utilizes X-ray images that are taken from different angles and computer processing. This creates cross-sectional images of different areas of the body including bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues. This provides more information and detail than standard X-rays. CT scans are often used to examine people who have internal injuries. Your doctor may recommend a CT scan to determine what is causing certain disorders, pinpoint the location of issues, monitor the progression of a disease or monitor the effectiveness of treatments. A CT scan briefly exposes the patient to ionizing radiation. If the patient is pregnant, the doctor may choose a different type of examination to reduce risks posed to the baby. A special dye (also known as a contrast material) may be administered to the patient through their vein, mouth or other methods. The contrast material can help to show blood vessels and intestines better. A CT scan may be done in a hospital or outpatient facility. It generally takes less than 30 minutes for a CT scan to be performed. The patient needs to be as still as possible when they are getting a CT scan. A radiologist will interpret the scans from the CT scan and will send a report to the doctor.

If you have any symptoms that you feel you should see your doctor for, don’t hesitate. Your doctor will be able to perform certain laboratory tests and use medical diagnostic equipment to determine the cause of your symptoms. Many health issues and injuries respond better to treatment the sooner that it starts.