Five Medical Tests to Save Your Life

Five Medical Tests to Save Your Life
All this week Mary-Ann Maloney is showing you five medical tests that can save your life. Look for an update every day this week on this page.
Friday - Spiral CT Scan for the Lungs
Do you smoke?  Have you quit?  Either way you may be a prime candidate for the last of our medical tests called a Spiral CT scan for lung disease.  You lay down on a table while a scan spirals around your chest area.  It takes three dimensional images of your lungs.  Doctors can detect lung cancer as small as a grain of rice.  It also gives them a good look at your lungs for future reference.  Cape Girardeau Radiologist Dr. Jeff Gremmels points out that there are a number of benign diseases that, although, are not going to cause a problem, can cause small masses in the lungs.  If you have a baseline study, it helps doctors down the road.  If a doctor is suspicious about a mass, he or she can compare it to what your lungs looked like before.  The Spiral CT scan can also detect lesions as small as two to three millimeters.  The test will run about twelve-hundred dollars depending on what exactly your doctor orders.  Again, no test is one hundred percent accurate.  Know your risk factors.  If lung cancer runs in your family, if you're a smoker or former smoker, you'll want to talk to your doctor about how to lower your risks and what tests you really need.
Thursday - Transvaginal Ultrasound
We asked Cape Girardeau Gynecologist Dr. Eric Morton if a transvaginal ultrasound would be worth paying for.  During this test, a probe is inserted into a woman's vagina.  It gives doctors a much better look than conventional ultrasound at the uterus, it's lining and the ovaries.  Although it's a good tool for detecting cancer, especially in women who are overweight, Dr. Morton says it's not necessary for every woman.  Dr. Morton says if you have a strong family history, never have been pregnant, never have been on birth control, had an early start to your periods or a late menopause, you may benefit from a transvaginal ultrasound.  In many cases, it is not covered by insurance, so it'll cost you about two hundred and fifty dollars.  Dr. Morton cautions that no test is one hundred percent accurate.  He stresses the importance of routine screening, such as the annual pap smear, and educating yourself on the early warning signs of ovarian cancer or cancer of the uterus.
Wednesday - Expanded Cholesterol Test
If you knew you could save your life with a simple test, would you do it?  The answer is obvious to you, maybe not so obvious to your insurance company.   Is an expanded cholesterol test worth the money?  A simple blood test tells you your cholesterol level and it's a score we should all be aware of.  But to really know if you're at risk, Cape Girardeau Cardiologist Dave Law recommends and expanded cholesterol test that breaks down that number even more.  Dr. Law says there are subfractions of good and bab cholesterol.  If you have a risk an expanded panel would be of us to help guide therapy since, as Dr. Law points out, different cholesterol medicines work differently and affect different subclasses differently.  An expanded cholesterol test will run about one hundred dollars.
Tuesday - Abdominal Aneurysm Scan
Continuing our look at medical tests that many times insurance doesn't cover and asking local doctors whether or not they're important enough that you should go ahead and have them anyway.  Another such test is called an Abdominal Aneurysm Scan.  You lay down on a bed while your aorta is scanned to see if it's dialated or has an aneurysm.  Radiologist Dr. Jeff Gremmels believes it's an important test for some men.   It gives doctors a better look at the aorta.  If you have a known aneurysm you want to follow or if you have a strong suspicion of an aneurysm, Dr. Gremmels says this is the test to get.  An abdominal Aneurysm Scan will run about three hundred and fifty dollars.  The test is especially good for men who smoke or used to smoke, who are over the age of 60 or if you have a family history of abdominal aneurysms.
Monday - Spiral CT Scan for Coronary Disease

If a simple test could save your life, would you take it? What if you had to pay for it yourself? New or experimental testing often isn't covered by insurance. But should you get it anyway? This week we're asking doctors about five specific tests and asking them, "is it important enough that I should pay for it?"  The Spiral CT Scan for coronary disease is one of those tests. You're injected with dye intravenously. A machine scans your coronary arteries looking for disease. Cape Girardeau Cardiologist Dave Law points out it's noninvasive, unlike an angiogram. Dr. Law says the scan is cutting edge technology and if you have risk factors you probably should get this test. A Spiral CT Scan for heart disease usually runs about twelve-hundred dollars but can be more or less, depending on what your doctor orders.