Medical Tests & Procedures Archive


How do I calm my shaking hands?

Long-established treatments for essential tremor, such as medication and deep brain stimulation surgery, have been joined by a leading-edge technique called focused ultrasound. This incision-free procedure aims sound waves at a spot deep in the brain responsible for tremors. While scientists study ultrasound's long-term effects, the procedure is currently used to treat shakiness on only one side of the body. Other common causes of tremor include Parkinson's disease, caffeine, alcohol withdrawal, anxiety, and fatigue.

Smartwatch monitoring after a heart valve procedure

A 2022 study suggests that using a smartwatch capable of estimating blood oxygen levels and recording an electrocardiogram could be an effective way to remotely monitor people at home following a minimally invasive heart valve replacement.

Do you really need that heart test or procedure?

Low-value care (tests or procedures that offer no clear benefit) is a particular problem for people with cardiovascular disease. Low-value care may happen because certain tests are widely available and may provide financial benefit to the health care center. But for patients, these tests may be a waste of time and money and lead to anxiety and risky complications. Up to half of all exercise stress tests and 15% of stent placements done in the United States may be inappropriate.

Warning signs of early heart failure

The signs of early heart failure, which include fatigue, shortness of breath, and swollen ankles, are often dismissed. Recent developments in both the detection and treatment of heart failure may help ease the burden of this disease. The American Diabetes Association recommends that people with type 2 diabetes receive yearly blood tests for a common biomarker of heart failure. And the FDA recently expanded use of a diabetes drug proven to keep people with heart failure (even those without diabetes) out of the hospital and alive longer.

Mammograms may help reveal cardiovascular risk

Postmenopausal women whose screening mammograms show signs of calcification in their breast arteries may have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Home screening options for colorectal cancer

There are several at-home screening tests for colorectal cancer. The most accurate are a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and a multitarget stool DNA (mt-sDNA) test (Cologuard), also known as a FIT-DNA test. The FIT test uses antibodies to detect blood in stool, and must be done once a year. The FIT-DNA test can identify DNA from cancer cells in the stool and also has a FIT component to look for blood. This test may be repeated once every three years.

Hospitalization after a ministroke? Not necessarily

Someone who has a transient ischemic attack (TIA, or ministroke) needs prompt testing to look for the underlying cause. A 2022 study shows that people can safely get that evaluation at a specialized outpatient clinic rather than having to be admitted to the hospital. The testing usually includes a heart ultrasound (echocardiogram), cardiac monitoring, and imaging tests. The results guide targeted stroke-prevention treatments, which can reduce the risk of a future stroke by as much as 80%.

Unique blood test may offer a speedier cancer diagnosis

A groundbreaking blood test might someday identify cancer in people with unexplained but worrisome symptoms like unexplained weight loss, frequent fatigue, constant nausea, and new pain.

Unmasking the varied causes of breathlessness and fatigue

Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) can help diagnose unusual causes of breathlessness, such as pulmonary hypertension or heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. CPET collects information about a person’s heart and lung function to assess how the body responds to exercise. It may also help doctors better understand the lingering fatigue and breathlessness that sometimes occur after a COVID-19 infection.

Can platelet-rich plasma injections heal your joints?

Platelet-rich plasma injections are used to reduce pain and speed healing for a number of common problems that affect the tendons, muscles, and joints, ranging from arthritis to shoulder pain. But a growing body of research shows that they may not be effective for some conditions, including knee osteoarthritis, ankle osteoarthritis, and Achilles tendinitis. There is some evidence that it may be effective for lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). People should consider whether there is a better option before undergoing PRP injections.

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