Tests and procedures

Is there really a blood test to diagnose concussion?

Eve Valera, PhD

Contributor

Can a blood test tell whether or not you have a concussion? It’s not quite that simple. There is a test that indicates the presence of substances released into the blood after a brain injury, but for now it is more useful for identifying situations when a CT scan is not necessary.

Harvard Health Ad Watch: A new treatment for knee arthritis

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

A TV ad for a procedure to treat arthritis of the knee claims that relief lasts for up to a year, but not much research has been done on its effectiveness. Studies are small and show little to support the claim.

Gene testing to guide antidepressant treatment: Has its time arrived?

Commercial gene tests claim to offer guidance in choosing appropriate medications to treat depression. As yet, no evidence supports this claim.

Dense breasts on a mammogram? What to know and do

Mammograms look for signs of breast cancer. They can also provide information on whether a woman has high breast density, which slightly increases risk for developing breast cancer. Here’s what you need to know and do if you’re notified about this risk factor.

Is there a test for Alzheimer’s disease?

Wondering whether a blood test or brain scan can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease? If memory loss is a problem for you or a loved one, consider these points before discussing potential next steps with a doctor.

New donor screening protocols for clinical trials involving fecal microbiota transplantation

The FDA has issued a safety alert about the risk of transmitting drug-resistant bacteria during a stool transplantation procedure, after the death of one person participating in a research protocol.

Need to check your thyroid? Maybe not

People who think they have hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) may expect or request a wide range of blood tests to confirm diagnosis. Yet a much simpler, less costly test can identify hypothyroidism in almost everyone.

Colorectal cancer screening before age 50?

While the incidence of colorectal cancer has declined among older adults, it has increased in people younger than 50. The American Cancer Society now recommends that adults be screened for this condition starting at age 45.

Stool transplants are now standard of care for recurrent C. difficile infections

Stool transplantation has become a standard treatment for people who have had multiple recurrent episodes of a bacterial infection; although the procedure has not been approved by the FDA, the success rate is high and the procedure is very safe.

Just do it… yourself: At-home colorectal cancer screening

Colonoscopy remains the best way to detect colorectal cancer, but there are at-home screening tests that do not involve the pre-test bowel clearing that many find uncomfortable.