A diagnostic test may be performed to detect and diagnose health problems. These tests can be useful in finding diseases and tracking their progression. There are many kinds of diagnostic tests. CT scans, PET scans, MRIs, ultrasound and blood tests are some of the different types.
A computed tomography (CT) scan is a diagnostic imaging tool. They create cross-sectional pictures of the body using computer and X-ray technology. Physicians usually can evaluate all major body parts for abnormalities with this test. It can be used to diagnose cancer, find signs of heart disease, locate blood clots and internal bleeding, and to identify many other health issues.
Specialized X-rays typically are taken to produce CT scan pictures. This diagnostic test can scan the body from many different angles. Contrast dye may be used to provide better imaging. This test can clearly show organs, bones, and inner structures such as glands, blood vessels, and lymph nodes.
Another type of diagnostic test is a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. A PET scan is a medical imaging test. It may be used to show how well organs are functioning inside the body. The scan may be used to detect differences in chemical and metabolic activity. Vital bodily functions such as oxygen use, blood flow, and glucose metabolism may be measured with this type of scan.
PET scans can help doctors make more accurate diagnoses. Commonly detected health problems include brain disorders, central nervous system problems, heart problems, as well as cancer. This scan could be used to help plan a treatment course. Additionally, it may used to conclude the effectiveness of current treatment plans.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) also may be used in diagnostics. Computer images of internal structures such as bones, organs, muscles, and nerves can be produced using electromagnetic radio waves. This test usually can be performed on any part of the body. Detailed images of organs as well as soft tissues can be produced by this imaging technique.
High frequency sound waves are used to view internal organs and images on an ultrasound during an MRI. Some organs commonly viewed by this type of diagnostic test include the liver, kidneys, heart, and other key organs. It also may be used during pregnancy to examine a fetus. An ultrasound also may be referred to as a sonogram.
If a person has been experiencing heart problems, their doctor may recommend that they have an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). An EKG is commonly used to diagnose underlying heart issues. This test measures electrical activity of the heart. An echocardiogram may also be used to examine heart abnormalities. A graphic outline of heart movement is produced by this test, including pictures of the heart chambers and valves.
Blood tests may also be used as a diagnostic tool. A sample of blood is drawn for laboratory analysis for this test. Diseases, organ function, and medication effectiveness usually can be analyzed. Blood tests generally are used to determine a variety of health issues.
A patient's doctor generally will decide the best type of diagnostic test for them. Tests usually are performed on an individual basis. Some people may have to undergo more than one test to be properly diagnosed.