You go into your podiatrist office to have your foot problem evaluated and you walk out with a lab form for some tests. Why do you need them and what do they mean?
Well, laboratory tests are an important tool to help us evaluate your health. Diabetics, people with swollen joints, people with foot pain symptoms that are unusual, people going on a new medication and people with infections are all candidates for blood work.
Here are some of the more common labs ordered by your podiatrist, what they are for and what abnormal levels could mean:
- This tells us how much sugar is in your blood. We usually order this if you are a diabetic and we want to get a measure of your recent sugar levels or if you are not diagnosed diabetic but we suspect you may be. Too high a value is seen in diabetics. You will also see an elevation if you did not fast for this test.
Hemoglobin A1c (HgA1c)
- If you are a diabetic and we want to know how well you have controlled your blood sugars over the past 3 months, this test will let us know.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
- BUN is a waste product made by the liver. It is excreted by the kidneys. We see high values in people on high protein diets, people who exercise strenuously, and people who have problems with their kidneys. We will order this test if we are placing you on a medication that is processed by the kidney and want to make sure your kidney is functioning properly.
- This is a waste product from muscle breakdown. This is also ordered to evaluate kidney function. A high value here with a high BUN could also mean you have kidneys that are not working well.
- This is normally excreted in urine. When your body is not excreting this properly, or if your body is producing too much of it, you could end up with gout, a condition that results in joint pain. If you have a swollen joint, we may order this to rule out gout.
If you have a swollen joint or joints and we are trying to further determine a cause, we may also order a Rheumatoid panel. This includes the Rheumatoid Factor (RF) test along with other autoimmune-related tests, such as an ANA (antinuclear antibody)along with other markers of inflammation, such as a CRP (C-reactive protein) ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate and along with a CBC (Complete Blood Count) to evaluate the body’s blood cells.
When we decide to put someone on a medication that may affect their liver, or we suspect that they may have liver damage, we may order a panel to check out their liver function. They may include AST, ALT, ALP, SGOT, SGPT, and GGT and Alkaline Phosphatase, Bilirubin, Albumin, total protein.
There are patients who present with weakness of their lower extremity. CPK level is a test we order to help make this determination. If CPK is high in the absence of cardiac history or strenuous exercise (both of which could also cause an elevation), it could indicate skeletal muscle disease.
If we are trying to heal a wound and suspect possible poor healing secondary to nutrition and overall health, we may order Albumin and Globulin levels.Hemoglobin (Hgb) and Hematocrit (Hct) may also be ordered as low levels also contribute to nutritional deficiencies causing anemia
If we suspect an infection, these tests help us evaluate the severity of the infection as well as how well a particular antibiotic is working against it. Usually, the higher the value, the more severe the infection. These labs include: C-Reactive Protein (CRP), White Blood Count (WBC), Sedimentation Rate (SED rate)
It is important to get these requested labs as soon as we order them to help you with your treatment. Doing so will help "get you back on your feet" in no time!!