Diagnostic Procedures

Diagnostic Procedures

Diagnostic Procedures
Allergy tests, echocardiograms, biopsies, semen analysis and spinal taps are just a few of the medical diagnostic procedures that are performed on patients diagnose diseases and conditions. These classification procedures do not involve x-ray imaging or a surgical procedure, but, involve taking measurements and samples of fluids, tissues and cells. Learn more about diagnostic procedures from our experts.

Recently Answered

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    ARealAge answered
    A semen analysis is an examination of a sample of a man's ejaculate under a microscope. The semen analysis is a standard and important part of an infertility workup. The microscopic analysis needs to take place within two hours of a man collecting the semen sample in a sterile cup or other container provided by the doctor's office. The analysis will look for the following features of normal sperm:
    • Sperm count. Forty million to 300 million is the normal range for the number of sperm per milliliter. Counts below 10 million are considered poor; counts of 20 million or more may be fine if motility and morphology are normal.
    • Motility -- the ability of the sperm to swim, and the direction and force with which they swim.
    • Morphology -- the size and shape of the sperm.
    • Total semen volume -- should be between 20 and 25 ml.
    • Fluid thickness, acidity, sugar content and how well it turns from a gel-like state to a liquid state.
    Because of variations in sperm samples, two or more samples a week or more apart may be needed to get an accurate picture of semen health.
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    ARealAge answered
    A digital rectal exam is a physical exam in which a doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to check for problems in the rectal, pelvic and abdominal area. In men, a digital rectal exam can help a doctor check for growths on or enlargement of the prostate gland. In women, a digital rectal exam can help a doctor check the health of the woman's reproductive organs, including the ovaries and the uterus, and is often done as part of a pelvic examination.

    In both men and women, a digital rectal exam may also enable a doctor to feel any unusual growths or enlargement of the bladder, and problems such as hemorrhoids and other growths in the rectal area. Stool may be tested as part of a colorectal cancer screening; the presence of blood may also indicate bleeding in the digestive tract.
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    ARealAge answered
    A lymph node biopsy is the removal of tissue from lymph nodes, small glands that are part of the immune system. The tissue is then examined under a microscope. You have hundreds of lymph nodes throughout your body, including in your neck, behind your ears, in your armpits and in your chest, abdomen and groin.

    In some cases, a doctor will perform a biopsy using a needle to remove a small sample of cells (fine-needle aspiration biopsy). A core needle biopsy uses a needle with a special tip to remove a sample of tissue from a lymph node.

    If a larger sample of tissue is needed, a doctor may elect to do an open biopsy, which is the removal of a lymph node through a cut in the skin. If more than one lymph node is removed, the procedure is called a lymph node dissection or lymph node sampling. Lymph node biopsies are usually performed to diagnose infection or disease, such as cancer, or to determine whether cancer from one part of the body has spread elsewhere. Other conditions that may be detected by a lymph node biopsy include HIV, tuberculosis and sarcoidosis, among others.
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    ARealAge answered
    A mental status exam (MSE) is to your brain what a physical exam is to your body. The MSE can be an important part of neurologic and psychiatric evaluations. It is an examination designed to test your mental functioning and behaviors. The MSE may be performed by your own doctor, a psychologist or psychiatrist or other medical professional. To conduct the MSE, your doctor may simply ask you a number of questions to determine how well your brain is functioning in areas such as language/speech, motor functions, recent and past memory, mood, judgment, attention span and more.

    If your doctor notes deficiencies, impairments or other problems in any component of the MSE, he or she may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation. The MSE is often a solid starting point in the diagnosis of a mental disorder or illness.
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    A Dr Jonathan Aviv, MD, Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology), answered
    Dr. Jonathan Aviv - What is the difference between an endoscopy and a transnasal esophagoscopy?
    The difference between an endoscopy and a transnasal esophagoscopy is that you need to be sedated for an endoscopy, which increases the risk of complications. In this video, otolaryngologist Jonathan Aviv, MD, explains the difference in detail.
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    A Dr Mark Litwin, MD, Urology, answered on behalf of UCLA Health
    During a digital rectal exam (DRE) for prostate cancer, the doctor will feel for nodules, hardness or lumps in the prostate gland itself. Because the location of the gland is immediately adjacent to the wall of the rectum, it's very simple to locate the prostate and examine it manually. If a lump is found, it could be an indication that there is a cancer growing in the prostate, and further tests will need to be done.
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    AHealthyWomen answered
    Digital rectal exams are recommended every 5–10 years with each colon screening from the age of 50. A digital rectal exam is important to help find early signs of colon cancer in the anal canal and lower rectum. Because of its limitations, it is not recommended as the only test for colorectal cancer. 
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    A Dr. Philip Lisagor, MD, Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular), answered on behalf of The Rest of Your Life (ROYL)
    If you have a terminal illness, the doctor's medical checklist may include the following:
    • A review of your medical status
    • Your status on the frailty index
    • A review of your loss history
    • A review of your psychological history
    • A review of your functional status
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    A Dr. Philip Lisagor, MD, Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular), answered on behalf of The Rest of Your Life (ROYL)
    If you have a terminal illness, your doctor may ask the following questions when reviewing your functional status:
    • How physically active are you?
    • How mentally active are you?
    • What do you like to do?
    • How stable is your weight?
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    A Dr. Philip Lisagor, MD, Thoracic Surgery (Cardiothoracic Vascular), answered on behalf of The Rest of Your Life (ROYL)
    Your doctor may ask the following questions when reviewing your loss history:
    • Have you lost any parents or children?
    • Have you lost a wife or husband?
    • Have you lost some good friends?
    • Have you lost pets?
    • When did these losses occur?
    • How did you deal with these losses?