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Every one of us has had to undergo one or more diagnostic tests at some point of our lives. But do you really understand the use of these tests? Read on to find the commonly advised tests, preparing for them, their significance and their side effects.

There are many a time when you go to our doctor with certain disease symptoms and he hands over a list of diagnostic tests. Have you ever wondered what the importance of these tests is? Well, diagnostic tests are tests which aid a physician in detection or diagnosis of a disease. The clinician may have a hunch that you are suffering from a particular disease on the basis of the presenting symptoms.

Diagnostic tests help in clarifying his doubts and establishing diagnosis of the disease.

An early diagnosis is imperative for starting early treatment. And the sooner the treatment is started, the better are the chances of curing the disease. At other times, a diagnostic test is done to confirm that you are free from a certain disease.

Diagnostic tests are of three types:

  • Non-invasive diagnostic tests: A sample is collected without performing any invasive procedure. Examples of non-invasive diagnostic tests are taking a throat swab for culture, collecting urine for urinalysis, etc.
  • Minimally invasive diagnostic tests: Examples of such a procedure are fine needle aspiration cytology, endoscopic biopsy, etc.
  • Invasive diagnostic tests: Examples are excising of a lymph node or a tumor and then sending it for pathological examination.

It is believed that when a patient understands the nature of diagnostic test he has to undergo and its importance, it has a psychological value. Normal test results can be reassuring for the patient. However, care should be taken not to advise unnecessary tests and to interpret the results of the tests carefully.

Some of the commonly advised diagnostic tests in the medical field are as follows:

Chest X-Ray

Chest X-rays are one of the oldest diagnostic tests used to diagnose a variety of lung and heart pathologies. They can give a clue about the presence of a foreign body in the airway, fractured ribs, pneumonia, pleural effusion, cardiomegaly and many other conditions.

For taking a chest x-ray, a technician puts a radiographic plate against your chest and then takes pictures from front or back and from the sides while you are asked to take a deep breath. Care is taken to expose you to minimum amount of ionizing radiations which do not cause any harm. However, pregnant women should avoid this diagnostic test in order to avoid any harm to the growing fetus.

Dense structures like bones appear white on an x-ray film as they absorb they x-ray beams. As the x-ray beams do not reach the photographic plate, these parts appear white. However, hollow body parts like lungs allow the beams to pass through them and appear dark.

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