Similar to CSI detectives, doctors need to collect evidence to get to the root of a medical problem or rule out certain illnesses. Laboratory and pathology tests provide that evidence, analyzing blood, body fluids or tissue samples to find irregularities in cells or chemical components in your body.
Also, certain diseases may require ongoing monitoring to find out how well your treatment is working or to help your doctor determine future treatments. Even if you’re feeling healthy, your doctor may order certain tests as a way to establish a baseline normal for you. Future tests will be compared to this baseline, helping your doctor flag any changes that may require closer attention.
Some tests need to be done while you have a completely empty stomach, so your doctor may tell you to fast. Generally, fasting requires 10 to 12 hours of no food or drink except water. Check with your medical provider for any special fasting requirements.
Remember, abnormal results can show up even when you’re feeling fine. That’s why doctors often order tests as part of your regular physical exam. Lab tests reveal information your doctor cannot discover using his or her senses.
Pathology tests take the process a step further by examining tissue, cell or fluid samples under a microscope. Examples of pathology tests include the state-of-the-art ThinPrep Pap test, which can detect pre-malignant and malignant cervical disease better than a standard pap smear.
Sutter laboratories stay on top of emerging technology that can help doctors identify disease earlier and more accurately. Our labs perform thousands of tests each year, which means lab technicians and pathologists in the Sutter Health network have extensive experience. All Sutter labs are licensed by the State of California’s Department of Health Services and certified as Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) laboratories.
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