Tests and examinations are used by doctors and consultants to collect further information and assist them to identify an illness or condition (reach a diagnosis).

Some common diagnostic tests that you may be asked to have are:

  • Biopsy - a small sample is tissue is taken to look for certain conditions.
  • Blood test - a small amount of blood is taken from a vein, usually in the arm or hand and tested for certain conditions.
  • X-ray - pictures of the bones taken using electromagnetic radiation.
  • Mammogram - x-ray pictures of the breasts.
  • Computerised tomography scan - also known as CT scan and CAT scan, this machine makes a special kind of detailed x-ray of parts of the body.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging - an MRI scan uses magnetic and radio waves to create pictures of body tissue.
  • Electrocardiograph – an ECG uses sound waves to check the rhythm of the heart.
  • Electroencephalogram – an EEG records electrical activity in the brain.
  • Cervical smear test – a sample of cells from the cervix are taken to test for pre-cancerous cells.
  • Urine test - a sample of urine is tested for signs of specific conditions.
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How does it work?

You should first visit your GP who may be able to carry out some tests in the surgery (such as blood or urine tests) or will refer you to a specialist.  Your dentist is also able to refer you to a specialist for tests.  If your test is carried out in the surgery, the blood or urine sample will be sent to a laboratory to be examined.

You may be advised not to eat or drink anything for a number of hours before your test. It is a good idea to check this with the receptionist when you confirm your appointment.

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The results of your test will be sent to your GP.  The results may take a few days or weeks to come in and some test results will take longer than others.  You should phone the surgery a week after the test to see if your results have arrived.

Your surgery may also phone you to tell you when your test results have arrived.  This will be arranged with you at the time of the test.

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS Choices.
Last Updated: 01/04/2013 00:00:00