Doctors use various tools and techniques for the accurate diagnosis of disease but lab tests might be the most common. There are many different types of laboratory diagnostic tests and most of them involve drawing blood, stool, or urine sample. For most patients who cannot physically go to a laboratory, a lab test at home service can be ideal. The lab technician can come to you to draw a sample and then take it back to the diagnostic center.
Medical professionals have made lab testing easy and accessible for all – especially the elderly. Most people tend to ignore the importance of lab tests. This can result in a delay in the diagnosis and management of a disease. But with so much convenience being offered, there should be no reason why someone delays a lab test that can be crucial for diagnosis.
Why Are Lab Tests So Important?
Lab tests can be used for multiple reasons by doctors and other medical professionals. Sometimes they may want to verify a diagnosis while other times it could just be a routine checkup. Most of the time, only a lab test can help take the medical procedures further. For example, diseases like hyperuricemia or diabetes can only be diagnosed through a test. Sometimes, a disease may not have any apparent symptoms but a lab test can help make the picture clearer.
Often life-threatening diseases can also be diagnosed timely with lab tests. For example, cancer screening in the early stages can help mitigate and manage the disease. Doctors also get some lab tests before they operate on any patient. High blood pressure or infection can risk lives during and post-operation as well. So, lab tests don’t just help in diagnosis, they can help save lives. Here are some of the important ways that lab tests prove to be one of the most powerful medical diagnostic tools.
#1: Routine Checkup
Most people consider lab tests as a sign of doom and gloom and can get intimidated by them. However, many times, lab tests can be nothing more than routine check-ups. If you have a family doctor who knows your medical history, they might screen you for diseases that run in the family. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the disease. However, relevant early signs can help devise the proper precautions for you.
Moreover, you can also get some regular lab tests like a complete blood count, renal function, liver function, Hba1c levels, cholesterol and uric acid levels, etc. They can help you get a grip on your overall health status. If you get routine tests every three to six months, you are unlikely to be blindsided by any health concerns. They can ring the alarm well before time and disease management can become an easier process.
#2: Differential Diagnosis
Doctors can sometimes have multiple diagnoses for particular symptoms that overlap with each other. And the only way to make an accurate diagnosis could be through lab tests. For example, a particular symptom like a headache can mean multiple things. The patient might be stressed out, have a migraine, or in more serious cases it could also be a tumor. So, lab tests are crucial for differential diagnosis and doctors can rule out the diagnoses that don’t match quantitative lab results.
#3: Monitoring a Chronic Illness
Chronic illnesses like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, ALS, etc., need constant management and medical care. For such patients, routine tests can be crucial for better disease management. Any surge in relevant numbers can indicate that the patient isn’t responsive to the current treatment. Therefore, doctors can adjust the medication dosage or add more as required. Lab screenings like X-rays, CT scans, or MRCPs can help keep a strict eye on tumors, head trauma, or any other injuries as well.
#4: Pre-Op and Post-Op Testing
Surgeons and anesthetists don’t take a patient to the surgical table without considering their health first. If the patient isn’t well enough to sustain the surgery, it likely won’t happen and the surgeon may recommend palliative care for terminal patients. The risk assessment for surgeries is usually done through various lab tests, screenings, and imaging. Moreover, the same test may be repeated post-op as well to observe any substantial change.
#5: Evaluate Future Treatments
Most medical professionals can also recommend lab tests while creating a future plan for treatment after diagnosis. Continual quantitative evaluations are necessary to see whether the patient is responding to the treatment or not. Moreover, it can also be crucial to plan ahead and get a clearer picture of the disease spread.
Lab testing can be one of the most crucial stages of any disease and its diagnostics. Even in the case of newer diseases like COVID-19 laboratory cultures of the specimen were crucial. Lab technicians were able to discover all the newer mutations and variants of the disease. So, lab tests and screenings are important for the proper diagnosis and management of most diseases.