Your health care provider may order lab tests as part of your normal wellness visit, to monitor a disease or help diagnose an illness. They will explain the reason or purpose for the lab work as well as any specific instructions to follow.
There are too many to list individually, but these are the most commonly ordered lab tests:
- Urinalysis: A test of your urine. It detects and manages a wide range of conditions, such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease and diabetes. A urinalysis involves checking the appearance, concentration and content of urine. Sample collection involves collecting one to two ounces of urine in a clean container.
- Complete Blood Count (CBC): Evaluates cells that circulate in the blood. A CBC screens for, diagnoses, or monitors a variety of diseases and conditions that affect blood cells, such as anemia, infection, inflammation, bleeding disorder or cancer. Sample collection involves drawing blood.
- Platelet Count (can be a single test or part of a CBC): Determines the number of platelets in a sample of blood. (Platelets are tiny parts of cells essential for normal blood clotting.) This test is used to diagnose or monitor a bleeding disorder or bone marrow disease. Sample collection involves drawing blood.
- Antinuclear Antibody (ANA): looks for evidence of autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Sample collection involves drawing blood.
- Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP): measures 14 chemicals in the blood including sugar/glucose level, cholesterol, electrolyte and fluid balance, kidney function, and liver function. Sample collection involves drawing blood.
- Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR): measures the rate at which red blood cells settle at the bottom of a test tube over a period of one hour. The purpose is to identify inflammation (swelling). Sample collection involves drawing blood.
Some (not all) lab tests require you to “fast” for 8-12 hours. This means you don’t eat or drink anything (except water) for 8-12 hours before your test. Because nutrients from food and drinks go into the bloodstream, a test given after fasting will show your body’s natural levels of sugar, cholesterol, etc. and not reflect what you ate for breakfast.
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