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What is Diagnostic Testing?

Unless you are superhuman, there is a good chance that, during your lifetime, you’ve been to a doctor who has suggested you undergo diagnostic testing of some kind. In fact, more than 13 billion diagnostic tests are performed every year in the United States. Diagnostic testing is a broad term that covers a wide variety of medical checks, whether invasive or non-invasive, to confirm or rule out health issues.

Diagnostic tests generally reveal the underlying issue of what brought you to the doctor’s office in the first place. These tests can give your physician a roadmap to create an effective treatment plan to help you recover from whatever is ailing you.

What are the main types of diagnostic testing?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released the first-ever list of 113 important diagnostic tests. In most cases, only a few of those tests will be needed to determine a diagnosis. Here are some examples of diagnostic tests.

Complete Blood Count

A complete blood count, or CBC, scrutinizes more than a dozen blood test readings that provide a general overview of your health. It is often the first test to determine if you have an infection or anemia. A CBC is performed on a blood sample, usually drawn from a vein.

Chemistry Panel

A chemistry panel is another type of diagnostic test your physician may order to get a better sense of how certain major organs are functioning. Like a CBC, a chemistry panel will be conducted on a blood sample. There are various types of panels, including a liver panel, which is used to screen for, evaluate, and monitor liver issues, a thyroid panel to pinpoint thyroid disorders, and an electrolyte panel, which is helpful to detect a problem with the balance of the body’s fluids.

Culture Tests

Culture tests evaluate body fluid, tissue, or other skin samples for infections like strep throat and the flu, which are caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungal infections. In a culture test, the sample is added to a substance that promotes the growth of germs. If no germs grow, the culture is negative. If germs that can cause infection grow, the culture is positive, and your medical provider will treat you accordingly.


This test is probably one of the most common diagnostic screenings of all. Urine tests are used to check for pregnancy, infection, and can also be used for drug screening.


X-rays are an example of a non-invasive diagnostic test. X-rays take pictures of areas of concern inside the body. This is done using a machine that emits low doses of high-energy radiation waves, which are aimed at a specific body part, such as arms, legs, chest, spine, and abdomen. X-rays can be used to determine broken bones, diagnose dislocations, bone or joint conditions, chest conditions such as pneumonia, and even detect the presence of foreign objects — for example, when a child accidentally swallows a coin.

Where can I have diagnostic testing done?

Except for urinalysis, most primary care physicians do not perform most of the diagnostic tests they order. Instead, they will refer you to an outside facility to get the screenings, which means you will need to make an extra trip costing you more time away from work or your family, plus transportation costs.

Urgent care can be a smart and convenient alternative. The medical staff at American Family Care (AFC), the nation’s largest urgent care network, conducts thousands of in-house diagnostic tests each year; using leading technologies. In most cases, you can receive your test results at home or access your records 24/7 through an online portal.

There is no need to make an appointment at AFC. We welcome walk-ins and keep extended hours, even on weekends. Thanks to our ability to perform exams and tests in one convenient location, our medical staff can quickly get you diagnosed and started on a treatment plan.

Click here to find an AFC near you.  You are welcome to either walk-in or contact the clinic directly for more details about scheduling an appointment.

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