Here are some simplified examples of what a differential diagnosis may look like for some common conditions. It comes back positive, so the doctor prescribes a course of antibiotics to treat the infection. Everything You Need to Know About Fasting Before a Blood Test, 6 Ways to Love Your Body on Bad Days with a Chronic Illness. Differential diagnosis is a process wherein a doctor differentiates between two or more conditions that could be behind a person’s symptoms. Some doctors may use this method in order to find a diagnosis, whereas some doctors are known to specialize in differential diagnosis. Is it throbbing, stabbing, dull, or something else? Have there been any major events or stressors in your life recently? The goals of differential diagnosis are to: Differential diagnosis can take time. Such conditions include: The doctor will then order one or more of the following tests: A person may require multiple in-office examinations and diagnostic tests before they receive a definitive diagnosis. The doctor performs laboratory tests to assess kidney and thyroid function. In such cases, they may refer the person to a specialist for a second opinion. Do you have other symptoms that occur with the headache? It enables appropriate testing to rule out possibilities and confirm a final diagnosis. Rationale: The patient is presenting with fatigue and weight loss which may be indicative of diabetes mellitus type 2, and his blood glucose is abnormally high. The examination may include the following: After taking a medical history and performing a physical examination, the doctor may have some ideas as to what may be causing a person’s symptoms. medical diagnosis diagnosis based on information from sources such as findings from a physical examination, interview with the patient or family or both, medical history of the patient and family, and clinical findings as reported by laboratory tests and radiologic studies. The results from these assessments are normal. In this article, learn…, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans produce detailed images of the organs and tissues in the body. Is there anything that makes your symptoms worse or better? Examples of differential diagnoses Chest pain. They perform an echocardiogram to check for an abnormal rhythm that could lead to clots, which could travel to the brain. As part of this process, they’ll review items such as: A differential diagnosis is a list of possible conditions or diseases that could be causing your symptoms based off of this information. adj., adj diagnos´tic. With this new information, Sue’s doctor now suspects a post-traumatic headache. This can make certain conditions difficult to diagnose using a nondifferential diagnostic approach. Additionally, she’s not currently taking any medications that could lead to high blood pressure. Next, a doctor will want to perform a basic medical examination. Because of this, many doctors turn to a differential diagnostic method when considering the possibility of a stroke. The kidney test results are normal, but Raquel’s thyroid results indicate hyperthyroidism. The doctor will base this list on information they gain from: Less commonly in the diagnostic approach, a doctor may have one theory about the cause of a person’s symptoms and test for that one condition. It typically comes shortly after having a meal. Last medically reviewed on July 15, 2020. Blood tests are commonly part of routine preventative care and diagnostics. This exam may assess multiple factors, including: A medical history and physical exam can narrow down the possible causes of headache. However, their benefits far outweigh their risks, and they frequently save lives. There are many similar features in both patient cases. Have you traveled out of the country recently? Health care professionals typically conduct a differential diagnosis, meaningthey make a list of all the possible explanations for a person’s symptoms and eliminate them one by one. Look it up now! Information and translations of DIFFERENTIAL DIAGNOSIS in the most comprehensive dictionary definitions resource on the web. Some questions they may ask include: It is important that a person answers all questions honestly and in as much detail as possible. 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