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In Office Labs

EC Primary Care Physicians

Board Certified Primary Care Practitioners & Board Certified Pediatricians located in Columbia, MD

What is a laboratory test?

A laboratory (lab) test checks a sample of your bloodurine (pee), or other body fluid or tissue to learn about your health. The sample is sent to a lab where health care professionals test it to see if it contains certain substances and, if so, how much.

Some lab tests can clearly show whether you do or don't have a specific health condition. For example, a pregnancy test can show whether or not a person is pregnant.

Other lab tests provide more general information about your health and possible problems. Test results that aren't normal give your health care provider clues about the type of health problems you may have. The results help your provider decide whether you need more tests and which ones will be most useful for diagnosing or ruling out certain conditions.

Lab tests are an important part of your health care. But they don't provide a complete picture of your health. Even though you may get your test results in your electronic health record (EHR), it's still important to talk with your provider to find out what your results really mean for you.

To get a full picture of your health, your provider will use your test results along with information from your physical exam, health history, family health history, and sometimes imaging tests, such as x-rays. In most cases, combining that information leads to a more accurate diagnosis than the results from any one lab test.

Lab Testing Available At Our Office

The following laboratory services are available

Why do I need a lab test?

Lab tests are used in different ways, including to help:

  • Diagnose or rule out a specific disease or condition. Tests to diagnose health problems are done when you have signs or symptoms of a certain disease or condition. Sometimes more than one test is needed to confirm a diagnosis.

    strep A test is an example of a diagnostic test. If you're sick with a bad sore throat and other symptoms, this test can show you whether you're infected with the bacteria that causes strep throat.

  • Screen for a disease or health condition. Screening tests check for health problems when you don't have any signs or symptoms. They help find problems early, when they may be easier to treat. Screening tests are often part of a routine checkup. Different types of screening tests have different uses. They can:
    • Tell you if you have a high risk for getting a specific disease. This alerts you to take steps to lower your risk. For example, a cholesterol test measures the amount of cholesterol in a sample of your blood. The results can help you understand your risk for heart disease.
    • Suggest whether you need more testing to check for a condition or disease. These screening tests look for signs that you may have a health problem so that you can have more testing to find out for sure. For example, one type of screening test for colon cancer looks for blood in your stool (poop). If blood is found, it could be a sign of cancer. So, your provider may order a colonoscopy to find out for sure whether you have cancer.

  • Monitor a disease and/or treatment. If you've already been diagnosed with a disease, you may need lab tests to see if your condition is getting better, worse, or staying the same. Tests can also show if your treatment is working.

    blood glucose test is an example of a monitoring test. It's used to monitor diabetes and diabetes treatment. It may also be used to diagnose the disease.

  • Plan your treatment. Certain tests can help show which treatments are likely to be most effective for a specific disease.

    Tumor marker tests are an example of testing to find out which treatments are likely to work to fight certain types of cancer.