When doctors order Lab tests, the tests involve gathering and analyzing samples of various body substances for diagnostic reasons. So, examples of include blood, sputum, stool, and urine tests.

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Why are Lab Tests Conducted?

Technician conducting Lab TestsLab tests help to identify the causes of back or neck pain. Many times, the causes of back and neck pain occur because of problems that do not associate with the spine.  For instance, the actual problem causing pain in the back or neck can sometimes result from kidney or abdomen problems. Also, back and neck pain can also cause diseases that eventually spread to affect the spine, such as cancer or infection. Therefore, the results of lab tests can help doctors determine the cause of such problems and what treatments to use.

Understanding Lab Tests for Scoliosis and Other Spine Conditions

When it comes to diagnosing and managing spine conditions such as scoliosis, laboratory tests play a crucial role.  Essentially, they provide valuable information to the doctors and surgeons. While lab tests alone cannot confirm or rule out specific spine conditions, they serve as important tools.  Generally, they support the overall diagnostic process and aid in monitoring the condition’s progression. In this article, we will explore the purpose of lab tests for scoliosis and other spine conditions, as well as common tests that may be performed. The following identify some of the testing that doctors order.

Complete Blood Count (CBC):

A complete blood count is a standard lab test that measures different components of the blood.  Specifically they measure red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and about 150 other things. While scoliosis itself does not typically affect blood cell counts, this test can rule out other underlying conditions. It can also provide valuable information about a patient’s overall health status before undergoing surgery or other invasive procedures.

Genetic Testing:

Genetic testing is often recommended for certain spine conditions, including congenital scoliosis or syndromic forms of scoliosis. These tests can identify specific genetic mutations or abnormalities that contribute to the development of the spine condition. Genetic testing helps in confirming a diagnosis, providing information about the condition’s inheritance pattern, and guiding treatment decisions. It may involve a blood sample, saliva sample, or cheek swab to analyze the patient’s DNA.

Bone Density Test (DEXA Scan):

Bone density testing, also known as dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA scan), measures the strength and density of the bones. While not specific to scoliosis, this test is particularly useful for evaluating spine conditions associated with bone health, such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can weaken the bones, making them more susceptible to fractures and potentially exacerbating the effects of scoliosis. A DEXA scan helps assess bone density and guides treatment decisions related to bone health and fracture prevention.

Inflammatory Markers:

In some cases, spine conditions can be associated with inflammation, such as ankylosing spondylitis or other forms of inflammatory arthritis. Lab tests to measure inflammatory markers, such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP), may be performed to assess the presence and severity of inflammation. These tests can provide valuable information for diagnosing and monitoring inflammatory spine conditions and guiding treatment strategies.

Metabolic Tests:

Metabolic tests evaluate various substances and chemical markers in the blood, providing insights into the overall metabolic function and health. While not specific to scoliosis, these tests can be useful in evaluating certain underlying conditions or risk factors that may impact spine health. For example, tests measuring calcium and vitamin D levels can assess bone health, while tests assessing glucose or lipid profiles can identify metabolic disorders that may impact overall spine health.

The Purpose of Lab Tests

Lab tests are important tools in the diagnosis, management, and monitoring of spine conditions, including scoliosis. While not all spine conditions require extensive lab testing, certain tests can provide valuable information about underlying factors, associated conditions, and overall health. It is essential to work closely with a healthcare professional or specialist who can recommend and interpret the appropriate lab tests based on individual circumstances. By leveraging the information provided by these tests, healthcare professionals can make more informed decisions regarding treatment plans, interventions, and ongoing monitoring of spine conditions.

Conducting Tests

The method of gathering and analyzing fluid samples depends on the type of test ordered by your doctor.  When doctors request a blood sample, a trained clinician uses a needle to draw the sample.

In order to check for an infection, doctors can get a throat culture.  In this case, a technician or nurse gathers a sample of cells from the throat.  A cotton swab collects cells from the back of the throat and then they get examined in the lab.

For another test, a patient supplies a sample of stool or urine using a sanitary container. For all testing, lab professionals take extra care to document information about the patient, the doctor, and the nature of the test. After analyzing the samples in the lab, the technician writes a report. Then doctors will compare lab results to a “reference range,” which provides a range of scores recorded from testing a large number of people of the same sex and age.

Lab Tests Limitations

Finally, lab tests do not identify wear, tear, and degeneration of the spine or a problem such as a ruptured disc. To make accurate diagnoses, doctors must rely on your history, a physical examination, and radiology scans to look for these problems.

Conducting Laboratory Testing

The doctors and surgeons at the Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute, with offices in  DallasPlano, and Frisco, Texas strongly believe that blood testing can provide valuable information about the health of a patient.  

If you or a loved one suffers from spinal pain, you owe it to yourself to call Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment.