Medical Tests & Procedures Archive

Articles

Home screening options for colorectal cancer

There are several at-home screening tests for colorectal cancer. The most accurate are a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and a multitarget stool DNA (mt-sDNA) test (Cologuard), also known as a FIT-DNA test. The FIT test uses antibodies to detect blood in stool, and must be done once a year. The FIT-DNA test can identify DNA from cancer cells in the stool and also has a FIT component to look for blood. This test may be repeated once every three years.

Hospitalization after a ministroke? Not necessarily

Someone who has a transient ischemic attack (TIA, or ministroke) needs prompt testing to look for the underlying cause. A 2022 study shows that people can safely get that evaluation at a specialized outpatient clinic rather than having to be admitted to the hospital. The testing usually includes a heart ultrasound (echocardiogram), cardiac monitoring, and imaging tests. The results guide targeted stroke-prevention treatments, which can reduce the risk of a future stroke by as much as 80%.

Unique blood test may offer a speedier cancer diagnosis

A groundbreaking blood test might someday identify cancer in people with unexplained but worrisome symptoms like unexplained weight loss, frequent fatigue, constant nausea, and new pain.

Unmasking the varied causes of breathlessness and fatigue

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) can help diagnose unusual causes of breathlessness, such as pulmonary hypertension or heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. CPET collects information about a person’s heart and lung function to assess how the body responds to exercise. It may also help doctors better understand the lingering fatigue and breathlessness that sometimes occur after a COVID-19 infection.

Can platelet-rich plasma injections heal your joints?

Platelet-rich plasma injections are used to reduce pain and speed healing for a number of common problems that affect the tendons, muscles, and joints, ranging from arthritis to shoulder pain. But a growing body of research shows that they may not be effective for some conditions, including knee osteoarthritis, ankle osteoarthritis, and Achilles tendinitis. There is some evidence that it may be effective for lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). People should consider whether there is a better option before undergoing PRP injections.

A new way to detect dangerous blood clots

A substance that binds to blood clots may one day offer a novel, less invasive strategy for finding dangerous clots in the heart and elsewhere in the body.

Can I skip colonoscopies after age 75?

Most people don't benefit from colonoscopies after age 75, but before stopping they should have a discussion with their doctor.

Should you monitor this chronic inflammation marker?

Increasingly, tests that measure C-reactive protein are marketed to health-conscious consumers as a way of determining if they have chronic inflammation. However, the test is just one piece of evidence and should be interpreted by one’s doctor. Without that expertise, a customer might not understand what the CRP test result means, and as a result might suffer unnecessary anxiety or pursue unnecessary tests. It’s best to talk to one’s doctor before seeking tests that measure CRP levels.

FDA wants women to understand the risks and benefits related to breast implants

The FDA recently moved to help make certain that women considering breast implants have a clear picture of what implants involve before moving ahead with surgery. The agency announced a series of changes in October 2021. These include new labeling requirements for breast implant manufacturers, a requirement that facilities provide patients with a checklist outlining potential risks and benefits related to breast implants, and updated screening recommendations to detect leaks in silicone breast implants.

Do you need a coronary calcium scan?

A test called a coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan uses a special type of x-ray to look for plaque in the arteries of the heart, which raises the risk of heart-related problems. While CAC scans can be valuable for detecting people at higher risk of heart problems from plaque buildup, this test isn’t right for everyone. It’s typically most useful for people who don’t yet have symptoms of heart disease, but who do have some risk factors. Determining how much plaque is in the arteries can help guide decision making about preventive strategies. The test is less useful for people at very low or very high risk for heart disease.

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