For seven years, Cid Lopez suffered from a painful mystery illness. Worst of all, after visiting a number of specialists and undergoing multiple surgeries – including several painful spinal operations and a procedure to remove his gallbladder – he was no closer to identifying his condition.
But everything changed when a sharp-eyed doctor ordered a very specific set of lab tests, unlocking the answers he was looking for. Recently profiled in a Washington Post “Medical Mysteries” piece, Lopez’s story is the latest example of how clinical laboratory diagnostics help patients find the answers they need.
But what actually happens when a patient has a lab test? For Lopez and many other patients, the diagnostic process begins with a visit to a health care provider, often a primary care physician or specialist. In this particular case, his physician suspected a possible fluid imbalance and ordered osmolality and urine tests.
After collecting specimens – blood and urine samples in Lopez’s case – providers send patient specimens to a laboratory staffed by a team of licensed and highly skilled clinical lab professionals. After completing a comprehensive analysis of specimen, the laboratory shares results back with providers.
Guided by the final test results, Lopez’s doctor was able to rule out other conditions and settle on a definitive diagnosis: diabetes insipidus, a rare disorder that causes fluid imbalances in the body. Identifying this unique condition gave Lopez the answers he was looking for and helped zero-in on a personalized treatment plan. After starting a new medication, hormone replacement and a closely monitored diet, Lopez has seen significant improvements in his health that have dramatically increased his quality of life.
Each year, the nation’s 53,000 laboratories conduct billions of reliable, innovative tests to help support early diagnosis, prevention and personalized care for patients like Lopez. To learn more about the life cycle of a lab test, click here.