Medical tests and you

Following your latest physcial the doctor tells you he wants to run some tests. The doctor answers your questions about the tests, but after you leave you’ve thought of many more questions. Where can you find some answers?

Patients who want to be better informed about their health might consult reliable and authoritative sources to learn medical terminology used in the tests to be administered, and to aid in interpretation of the test results. Tests such as an MRI or a CT Scan are more common today and have different uses.  Understanding as much as possible about your tests is important.

The Gale encyclopedia of surgery and medical tests : [a guide for patients and caregivers]
Brigham Narins, editor.
Detroit : Gale, c2009.
Subtitled "a guide for patients and caregivers", this 4-volume work presents clearly written and well-organized entries on the process of medical testing and surgery. Diseases and conditions, their tests and treatments, the specialists involved, and general information about health care are described in 535 alphabetically arranged articles. Each article is written for the non-specialist and includes a wealth of accessible information, not only in the text itself, but in drawings, lists of key terms and their definitions, lists of questions to ask the doctor, and the frequent bulleted lists about preparation, diagnosis, aftercare, precautions, and other details. Bold type is used in the text for terms found in the glossary, and each entry includes lists of bibliography and organizations, and cross references. A sampling of topics includes analgesics, aseptic technique, bloodless surgery, HIDA scan, managed care plans, rotator cuff repair, and ventricular shunt. Each of the 4 volumes contains a list of entries and a list of entries by body type, making the volumes easy to navigate. Vol.4 contains the glossary, a list of medical organizations, and a thorough index. Annotation c2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
A woman's concise guide to common medical tests
Michele C. Moore, Caroline M. de Costa.
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c2005.
  1. Includes bibliographical references (p. [169]) and index.
  2. What is a screening test? -- The annual physical exam -- Pap smears -- Colposcopy -- Screening for breast cancer -- Screening for colon cancer -- Screening for diabetes -- Screening for heart disease -- Screening and testing for communicable diseases -- Screening for bone loss -- Vision screening -- Screening in older women -- Screening in pregnancy -- What's left out and why -- Genetic screening -- Laboratory tests -- The positive side of prevention.
Medical tests every man needs
content provided by Mayo Clinic Health Information.
Philadelphia, Pa. : Mason Crest Publishers, 2002.
The Compact Guides to Fitness #38; Health were researched and compiled by the Mayo Clinic. This 17-volume set gives specific information on how to live a healthier life, for example, Living Disease-Free, Your Healthy Back, and Medical Tests Every Man Needs.
The patient's guide to medical tests : everything you need to know about the tests your doctor orders
Joseph C. Segen and Josie Wade.
New York : Facts on File, c2002.
This guide provides updated information on more than 1,000 commonly prescribed diagnostic procedures, including the CAT scan, MRI, PSA blood test for prostate cancer, HIV test, mammography, fetal monitoring, and the pulmonary function test. Each entry includes a description of the test, patient preparation required, a description of the procedure, the reference range, what abnormal values may signify, and the cost of each test.
The Johns Hopkins consumer guide to medical tests : what you can expect, how you should prepare, what your results mean
Simeon Margolis, medical editor.
New York : Rebus, c2001.
Intended to help patients understand the purpose of specific tests and to make informed decisions about diagnostic/treatement options. It provides detailed information on hundreds of sophisticated procedures.
The patient's guide to medical tests : everything you need to know about the tests your doctor prescribes
Joseph C. Segen and Joseph Stauffer.
New York : Facts on File, c1998.
This guide for consumers of medical services and treatment lists 1,000-plus commonly used medical tests in alphabetical order under the name most commonly used by physicians. Entries include brief descriptions of the test, and information concerning patient preparation, specimen type, procedures used, the range of values for those free of the disease, symptoms associated with abnormal values, costs, precautions to be used in evaluating results, and potential risks. Paper edition (unseen), $17.95. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Keeping a medical diary is a way of having a record of one’s health.  This could include such things as doctors’ visits, medications taken, medical tests and results, and hospitalizations. If the symptoms one has experienced are recorded over a period of time, these can help the doctor with the diagnosis.

Whether done in the doctor’s office or the medical building, at a specialized clinic or in a hospital, medical technology has an impact on tests in terms of the speed of the results and the ways tests are administered.

With the advances in medicine, some tests have become simpler, while others are more complicated, with the hope of more accurate and safer results.

In spite of advances, there is the need for health consumers to have a more active role in their own medical care. Know your rights as a patient. Make informed choices. Be involved in decisions about your health and medical care. Ask for copies of your test results. And know the extent of your insurance coverage.

Essential questions

What is the test's purpose?
What should I expect?
What preparation is needed?
Who will perform the test?
What are the risks?
Who interprets the results?
Does insurance cover the test?

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff