Diagnostic testing is a fundamental component of modern medicine and a critical part of the diagnostic process. By gathering information through various tests and imaging, doctors can obtain clinical findings that inform the diagnosis and management of a patient’s condition. Diagnostic imaging is typically the first course of action when a patient presents a medical concern, and it may be conducted in successive rounds to ensure a thorough and comprehensive approach.
The significance of testing in accurate diagnosis cannot be overstated, and it is a critical step in helping patients achieve a pain-free future. Diagnostic testing can aid in various ways, including:
- Enables physicians to make better-informed decisions, identify the underlying cause of a patient’s symptoms, develop a working diagnosis and make expert treatment plan recommendations.
- Can greatly improve the chances of a positive health outcome.
- Can identify serious conditions, allowing for prompt treatment and intervention.
- Monitors ongoing treatments and assesses treatment efficacy.
- Diagnostic testing is a powerful tool that enables doctors to provide accurate, timely and effective care to their patients.
Medical Imaging: The Cornerstone of Effective Patient Care
Medical imaging has revolutionized the field of medicine by allowing doctors to peer inside the human body and obtain precise information about a patient’s condition. With medical imaging, doctors can visualize the structure and activities of a patient’s body, providing a detailed evaluation of symptoms. Physicians often opt for medical imaging as it is a painless and non-invasive method of diagnostic testing.
There are several different types of medical imaging, each with unique features and applications. The different types of imaging are as follows.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans
An MRI scan is a medical imaging technique used for assessing the central and peripheral nervous system (brain and spinal cord), musculoskeletal system (bones and joints), as well as the breast, prostate, abdominal and pelvic regions. Using a combination of magnetic fields and radio waves, an MRI machine produces three-dimensional images of the body that can be viewed at multiple angles.
What You Can Expect from an MRI Scan
During an MRI scan, you will be asked to lie still inside an MRI machine for an extended period while it generates loud sounds. While an MRI scan may require patience and stillness, the benefits of this imaging technology in detecting health issues such as abnormalities, tumors, injuries and even metabolic processes, are invaluable. MRI technology is non-invasive and has significantly advanced diagnostic capabilities, allowing doctors to evaluate complex medical issues in unprecedented detail.
Electromyography (EMG) Diagnostic Testing
Conducted by a PMR, an EMG test is a type of diagnostic test that assesses the health and functionality of the neuromuscular system. An electro-diagnostic test measures muscle activity and responsiveness to nerve stimulation, allowing doctors to identify any abnormalities that might be impacting a patient’s mobility or movement. The neuromuscular system is responsible for sending signals from the nervous system to the muscles, telling them when and how to move. The point of an EMG test is to detect disease groups that affect the neuromuscular system, such as motor neuron disease, neuropathies, neuromuscular junction disorders and myopathies.
What Happens During an EMG Test?
During the procedure, electrodes or needles are inserted into the patient’s muscles. These electrodes detect the signals produced by the muscle when it contracts, which a doctor can then see and hear from a computer monitor. An EMG test is a safe procedure with minimal discomfort that can provide doctors with vital information on how to improve or restore a patient’s mobility.
Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) Scans
A CAT or CT scan is another medical imaging procedure that combines x-ray and computer technology to capture images of internal organs. CAT scans are distinct from traditional x-rays, however, in that the machine rotates around the patient to produce a 360-degree image in much greater detail. CAT scans are typically performed as an exploratory measure to identify internal bleeding, injuries and damage, and may also be done to examine tissue or fluid.
Additionally, CAT imaging is a powerful diagnostic tool for surgery and treatment preparations. It can reveal cancer cells and tumors and help gauge the effectiveness of an ongoing treatment plan. Like an MRI scan, the procedure is similarly painless, and patients are asked to lie on a scan table, where they are inserted into a scanning machine. The CAT machine captures cross-sectional images which are then transmitted to a computer for the doctor’s review.
X-rays are a simple yet effective method of diagnosing various medical conditions. Unlike other imaging procedures, such as MRIs or CAT scans, x-ray examinations are quick and straightforward. They produce black and white shaded images of the musculoskeletal system, allowing doctors to easily detect bone breaks, fractures, density and decay. Moreover, x-rays can also reveal swallowed items, blockage, digestive issues, cancer, and infections. The procedure involves keeping still while the x-ray machine emits small amounts of safe radiation through your body to generate the images. X-rays are a reliable and accurate diagnostic tool for identifying medical conditions.
Bone Scan Diagnostic Testing
Bone scans are a highly advanced diagnostic procedure used for diagnosing and tracking various bone diseases such as arthritis and Paget’s disease. Unlike traditional x-rays, bone scans use nuclear imaging to detect bone abnormalities using radiotracers and a specialized camera. This imaging technique is useful for identifying the source of unexplained skeletal pain, bone infections or bone injuries such as fractures. In addition, it is an invaluable tool for detecting cancer that has spread to the bone or cancer that originates in the bone, such as breast or prostate cancer.
What to Expect During a Bone Scan
During a bone scan, a small amount of radioactive material is injected into your arm, which highlights any area of increased bone activity. You will then be asked to lie on a scan table while a camera captures images of your bones. The procedure is painless, typically takes a few hours and may be done in multiple phases to allow for a more detailed examination of your bones.
Book a Diagnostic Test Today to Start Your Healing Journey
Diagnostic testing has transformed the way we diagnose and treat medical conditions. Medical imaging has made the diagnostic process painless, non-invasive and highly informative. From MRI and CAT scans to EMG tests and bone scans, these life-changing technologies have enabled doctors to detect medical conditions with greater accuracy and efficiency. With diagnostic testing, patients can receive timely and effective treatment plans that can ultimately improve their quality of life.
Medical Rehabilitation Centers of PA is here to work with you to discover the appropriate diagnostic test for your medical condition. For more information or if you have any questions, please contact us today.