Common Lab Tests

As part of a regular checkup, to get a diagnosis, or perhaps to provide a benchmark, your doctor may request one or more laboratory tests. Here is a list of the most common tests ordered and their purpose. All tests are done using a blood sample, except where noted. If you would like more detailed information regarding your test, please visit www.labtestonline.org

Amylase

Your doctor may request this test if you have symptoms of a pancreatic disorder, such as severe abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite, or nausea.

ANA

This test helps to diagnose lupus and to rule out certain other autoimmune diseases.

aPTT (PTT)

This test is most often ordered to help evaluate your risk of excessive bleeding prior to a surgical procedure, or to monitor heparin anticoagulant therapy.

AIC (Hemoglobin A1C or Glycohemoglobin)

Used to monitor a person’s diabetes and to aid in treatment decisions, this test is usually performed with the first diagnosis and then 2 to 4 times per year.

BMP (Basic Metabolic Panel)

A group of 7-8 tests used as a screening tool to check for conditions like diabetes and kidney disease. You may be asked to fast for 10 to 12 hours prior to test.

CBC (Complete Blood Count)

Determines general health and screens for disorders such as anemia or infections, as well as nutritional status and toxic substance exposure.

CMP (Comprehensive Metabolic Panel)

This group of 14 tests gives your doctor information about the kidneys, liver, and electrolyte and acid/base balance, as well as of blood sugar and blood proteins.

Electrolytes (Electrolyte Panel)

This test can be requested as part of routine exam, and when your doctor suspects an excess or deficit of electrolytes (sodium or potassium) or an acid-base imbalance.

ESR (Sedimentation Rate)

Your doctor may order this test to determine the cause of inflammation, or to help diagnose and follow the course of joint or muscle pain.

Flu Tests

Used to determine whether flu-like symptoms are due to influenza A or B, or to other causes. Testing may be done using a nasopharyngeal swab, nasal aspirate or wash, or a throat swab.

Glucose

Used to identify blood glucose level, and to screen for, diagnose, and monitor diabetes, pre-diabetes, and hypoglycemia. If you are diabetic, glucose levels should be monitored up to several times a day.

hCG

Typically performed to confirm and monitor pregnancy, or if symptoms suggest issues of concern. Urine sample is collected in the morning or a blood sample is drawn.

HIV Antibody

This test to determine if you are infected with HIV should be performed three to six months after you think you may have been exposed to the virus.

Lipid Profile

This group of tests can determine risk of coronary heart disease, and may be a good indicator of whether someone is likely to have a heart attack or stroke, as caused by blockage of blood vessels.

Liver Panel (Liver Function Panel)

Also known as liver (hepatic) function tests or LFT, can detect liver damage or disease. Multiple tests may be ordered at the same time, and may be used to detect hepatitis, or diagnose other liver-related conditions.

Lyme Disease

If you show symptoms of Lyme disease, your doctor may order this test to see if you have been exposed to the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

Microalbumin

Performed annually after a diagnosis of diabetes or hypertension to screen for a possible kidney disorder. It can be done using a random, timed, overnight, or 24-hour urine sample.

Mono

If you have symptoms of mononucleosis, including fever, sore throat, swollen glands, and fatigue, your doctor may order this test to make a diagnosis.

Pap Smear

Should be performed annually for women who are over the age of 18 and/or sexually active, to screen for cervical cancer and certain vaginal or uterine infections. Cells are removed from the cervical area for testing.

PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen)

This test is to screen for — and monitor — prostate cancer.

PT (Protime)

Used to check how well prescribed blood-thinning medications (anti-coagulants) are working, or to help detect and diagnose a bleeding disorder.

Semen Analysis

Can be used to learn about the health of your reproductive organs, or after a vasectomy to determine if the operation was successful. A semen sample is collected in a sterile, wide-mouth container provided by the lab.

Stool Culture

Used to determine whether you have pathogenic bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. Test requires a fresh stool sample or one that has been placed in a specialized collection container.

TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)

This test is performed to screen for and diagnose thyroid disorders, or to monitor treatment of hypothyroidism.

T4 (Thyroxine)

Usually ordered after an abnormal TSH result, this test can diagnose hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism in adults; or screen for hypothyroidism in newborns.

Uric Acid

Used to detect high levels of uric acid, or to monitor certain chemotherapy or radiation cancer therapies.

Urinalysis

This standard test is usually performed on admission to a hospital or as part of an annual physical. It may also be done if you have symptoms relating to abdominal pain or blood in the urine. One to two ounces of urine are required.

Urine Culture

If you experience symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI), your doctor may test a sample of your urine to make the diagnosis. A urine sample is required.

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