To Invade or not to Invade?

Any time a patient comes into the hospital, the doctors will have to perform some type of diagnostic test. The testing helps the medical staff to find out exactly what a patient is suffering from. Testing can even be a great way to find out about a medical condition early, before it has time to develop into a serious problem. While there are many different kinds of tests they can all be placed into two different categories: Invasive and Non-invasive.

Invasive Diagnostics

Sometimes the medical staff will need to conduct a diagnostic test that requires breaking the skin at the very least. An invasive diagnostic test is any type of medical test that requires physicians to use instrumentation to physically enter the body. The instrument can be very small and relatively pain free, as is the case with taking a blood sample, or more involved, as with a biopsy. Invasive diagnostics generally involve the medical professional looking inside the body to identify a potential medical issue or removing a part of the body that will be tested. Sometimes doctors use medical devices fitted with cameras or other technologically based equipment to evaluate a patient. If the test is apt to be painful, patients will either be medicated or sedated.

Common Invasive Procedures

  • Blood Tests- This test draws blood from your body for testing. Blood tests can be used to diagnose many medical conditions as diseases will show up in your blood.
  • Biopsy- This test removes tissue from the body for testing. It is a basic surgery that targets tissue from a particular area of the body that needs to be evaluated. You have likely heard of a biopsy, as it is one of the common diagnostic methods used to determine whether someone has cancer.

Non-Invasive Diagnostics

Non-invasive diagnostics have the same end goal as invasive procedures: they are tools to evaluate the body and define whether a medical condition exists or not. In these procedures physicians tend to use advanced technological equipment that is capable of creating pictures or images of the inside of the body without actually going inside the body. Some of these methods are used as part of invasive procedures to accurately diagnose patients. Other times they might be used first to determine whether a more invasive test needs to be performed. Most of these tests do not cause any physical pain and can be performed relatively easily. They generally do not require that the patient take any time to heal or recover.

Common Non-Invasive Procedures

  • X-Rays - This test is one of the most well known non-invasive tests available. Radio waves are sent through the body in order to create an image. X-Rays can show broken bones and even organs.
  • Computer Imaging- Computers are used for nearly everything these days. When it comes to medicine, computers can be used in combination with other technologies, usually x-Ray technology, to create pictures of the body. Computer imaging diagnostics include CT Scans, PET scans and MRIs. The computers control the x-rays and allow them to be more specifically targeted, bringing about more specific diagnoses. A CT Scan for instance takes multiple x-rays of the body from various angles and creates one total image that shows as much or as little of the body as the doctors need.
  • Ultrasound - This test uses sound waves to create images of the body and the internal organs. You have likely heard of them when it comes to pregnancy, since they are the test used to take the first "pictures" of our children. However they can be used to evaluate other disorders as well.

A proper diagnosis is the first step towards proper medical care. If you would like more information about the multitude of diagnostic tests that can be performed, call Consult-A-Nurse® at (954) 724-6342.