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What Are Diagnostic Tests and Procedures?

Updated on February 24, 2013

What are diagnostics tests and procedures?

If you were instructed by your doctor to give a tube of blood, a small cup of urine, or a body tissue sample for testing, then, you are having a diagnostic test. Diagnostic test is often part of routine check-up to help doctors diagnose medical conditions, evaluate or plan treatments and monitoring of patient's condition.

There are three ways on how to do a diagnostic test:

  1. a simple physical examination test which is done by using the hand of a skilled practitioner
  2. other tests require elaborate equipment used by Medical Technologist or a licensed technician in a diagnostic laboratory
  3. tests requiring body fluids or tissue sample to be sent to a pathology lab


Below are the common diagnostic tests and description of their procedures:


Allergy Test is a test to determine the substances to which a person is allergic.Maybe done by skin test, elimination diet or blood test.


Angiography is a procedure to detect the extent and severity of blockage in the blood vessels supplying blood to the heart (coronary arteries).A simple catheter is inserted into an artery in the groin or arm, advanced to the opening of the coronary arteries and a contrast material is then subjected to visualize the x-ray images (the images produced are called the angiogram).

If indicated, angioplasty (inserting of a small balloon catheter into an arteryin the groin or arm, advancing it to the narrowed part and inflating it to enlarge the narrowing in the artery) or stent (a tube inserted in the coronary arteries to keep them open) is usually done as part of the procedure.


Antinuclear antibody test is a blood test to detect autoimmune diseases (disorders in which the body’s tissues are attacked by its own immune system).

BARIUM ENEMA (Lower GI Series)

It is an X-ray of the large intestine (colon) to detect cancer and other problems in the large intestine and rectum.A white liquid (barium) is infused through a catheter inserted in the anus and into the rectum until it fills the large intestines, then an x-ray is taken to see the outline of the intestines.


Biopsy is the removal and examination of a small piece of tissue from a living body to diagnose the presence, cause and extent of a disease.


Blood Chemistry is the comprehensive group of chemical tests to evaluate body’s metabolism, e.g. how the liver and kidneys are functioning; levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and calcium; levels of electrolyte and proteins.


It is a test to assess the risk of fracture.It is done with a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scanner, which produces two X-ray beams, one with high energy and the other with low energy.The amount of x-rays that pass through the bone is measured for each beam; the bone density is measured from the difference between the two beams.The result is usually scored by the T-score which compares one’s bone with mass density to that of a healthy 30-year of the same sex and ethnicity.

World Health Organization (WHO) criteria:

  • T-score of -1 and higher = normal
  • T-score between -1 and -2.5= osteopenia (low bone mass)
  • T-score of -2.5 or lower = osteoporosis (thinning of the bone and loss of bone density


Cardiac Stress Test is a test used to determine the amount of stress that the heart can manage. The most commonly performed test is the treadmill stress test which involves walking on a treadmill at increasing level of difficulty, while blood pressure, heart rate and ECG are monitored.


It is a procedure that enables viewing inside the large intestine (colon), used to check for abnormal growth, ulcers and swollen tissue. It is done by inserting a flexible thin tube with a camera (colonoscope) into the anus.


Complete blood count is blood test to calculate the elements of the blood: red blood cell count, white blood cell count, differential count, platelet count, hemoglobin, hematocrit, mean corpuscular hemoglobin, mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, red blood distribution.


Computer Tomography is an x-ray procedure used to diagnose, detect and identify diseases or injuries, pinpoint the exact location of a problem or guide medical procedures. Images from multiple different points around the body are taken and then processed by a computer to generate detailed images or cross- sections of the internal itssues, organs and structures of the body.


Echocardiogram is a test to examine the heart's movement. It uses ultrasound to get a cross section of the beating heart, including the chambers, valves and major blood vessels to and from the heart.


Electrocardiogram is a test to measure the electrical activity of the heart by the use of leads (electrical sensing devices) in standard locations in the body. It is used to detect heart rhythm, heat orientation in the chest cavity, disorder in the heart muscle and blood flow to the heart muscle.. Continuous monitoring for 24-48 hours is done with a device called a Holter monitor,


Electroencephalogram is a test to record the electrical signals of the brain by the use of electrodes or sensors placed on the scalp. It is used to diagnose epilepsy.


Electromyogram is a test used to detect abnormal electrical activity of the muscle that occur with certain muscle conditions. The electrical activity of the muscles is detected by inserting a needle electrode throught the skin into the muscle.


Endoscopy is a procedure that enables viewing inside the body to check for abnormal growths and other conditions. Done by inserting a thin flexible tube with a camera (endoscope) into a body opening. Scopes are also used sometimes for surgery.


Fecal occult blood test is a test done in stool samples to detect occult blood (blood not visible to the naked eye) in normal-colored stool; done to detect or prevent colon cancer that has no intestinal symptoms.


Glucose tolerance test is done to check how the body breaks down sugar. It is used to diagnose type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes (high blood glucose during pregnancy), usually done orally where one is given a liquid drink with a certain amount of glucose and blood samples are taken up to four times after drinking to measure blood glucose level.


Hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure to view the inside of the uterus by inserting a visualizing scope through the vagina and cervix. Used to diagnose uterine abnormalities or to treat certain conditions.


Lipid profile is a blood test to evaluate the risk for developing coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis (hardening and clogging of arteries due to fat deposits). It measures total cholesterol, triglycerides, high density lipoprotein (HDL), low density lipoprotein (LPL) and total cholesterol/HDL ratio.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging is a technique using magnetism, radio waves and computers to produce digital images of body structure from almost every angle and to detect diseases in the body.


Mammography is the x-ray of the breasts, used to visualize normal and abnormal structures within the breast and to identify cysts, calcifications and tumors within.


Papsmear is a procedure by diagnosing pre-malignant or malignant changes in the cervix, in which cells from the cervix are collected and examined via the microscope.


Total prostate specific antigen test is a blood test used to detect prostate cancer, to determine the need for biopsy of the prostate, to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment and to detect recurrence of prostate cancer.

ULTRASOUND IMAGING (Ultrasound Scanning Sonography)

Ultrasound Imaging is a technique using high frequency sound waves (ultrasound to produce images of the organs and structure of the body. It is used to diagnose medical conditions and assess organ damage after illness.


Upper GI Series are x-rays to visualize structure of the upper digestive system (esophagus, stomach and upper part of the small intestines called duodenum). It is used to detect gastrointestinal problems.


Urinalysis is a test to analyze the urine's physical appearance, chemical and microscopic properties; to check for drugs or by-products; to determine pregnancy and to evaluate certain medical conditions.

Knowing these diagnostic tests will help the patient to prepare himself/herself for the procedures to be done.


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    • inaniLoquence profile image

      inaniLoquence 6 years ago from Singapore

      You're welcome! :)

    • sunasia22 profile image

      sunasia22 6 years ago from Philippines

      @ manu6076 thank you for taking time to read my hub....@ inaniLoquence thank you kabayan for voting up,,, really appreciate your thoughtful comments...

    • inaniLoquence profile image

      inaniLoquence 6 years ago from Singapore

      Very comprehensive hub, kabayan! Voted up and useful!

    • manu6076 profile image

      manu6076 6 years ago from Hong kong

      Very informative hub !