All Medical Procedures

Cystoscopy (sis-TOS-kuh-pee) is a procedure used to see inside your urinary bladder and urethra — the tube that carries urine from your bladder to the outside of your body. During a cystoscopy procedure, your doctor uses a hollow tube (cystoscope) equipped with a lens to carefully examine the lining of your bladder and your urethra. The cystoscope is inserted into your urethra and slowly advanced into your bladder.

Your doctor may perform the cystoscopy in a testing room, using a local anesthetic jelly to numb your urethra. Or your doctor may perform cystoscopy as an outpatient procedure, using sedation. Another option is to do the cystoscopy in the hospital while under general anesthesia. The type of cystoscopy you'll have depends on the reason for your procedure.

A discogram, or diskogram, is a test used to evaluate back pain. A discogram may help your doctor determine if an abnormal disk in your spine is causing your back pain.

Spinal disks look a little like jelly doughnuts, with a tough outer layer and a gel-like substance inside. Disks act as cushions between the bones in your spine.

During a discogram, dye is injected into the soft center of the disk. The injection itself sometimes reproduces your back pain. Several disks may be injected to try to pinpoint the cause of your back pain.

The dye also moves into any cracks in the disk's exterior, which can then be seen on an X-ray or CT scan. However, disks that show signs of wear and tear don't always cause symptoms, so the usefulness of a discogram is controversial.

An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce images of your heart. This commonly used test allows your doctor to see how your heart is beating and pumping blood. Your doctor can use the images from an echocardiogram to identify various abnormalities in the heart muscle and valves.

Depending on what information your doctor needs, you may have one of several types of echocardiograms. Each type of echocardiogram has few risks involved.

An electrocardiogram is used to monitor your heart. Each beat of your heart is triggered by an electrical impulse normally generated from special cells in the upper right chamber of your heart. An electrocardiogram — also called an ECG or EKG — records these electrical signals as they travel through your heart. Your doctor can use an electrocardiogram to look for patterns among these heartbeats and rhythms to diagnose various heart conditions.

An electrocardiogram is a noninvasive, painless test. The results of your electrocardiogram will likely be reported the same day it's performed, and your doctor will discuss them with you at your next appointment.

Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is a minimally invasive procedure to assess digestive (gastrointestinal) and lung diseases. It uses high-frequency sound waves to produce detailed images of the lining and walls of your digestive tract and chest, nearby organs such as the pancreas and liver, and lymph nodes.

When combined with a procedure called fine-needle aspiration, EUS allows your doctor to sample (biopsy) fluid and tissue from your abdomen or chest for analysis. EUS with fine-needle aspiration can be a minimally invasive alternative to exploratory surgery.

EUS techniques are also used in certain treatments, such as draining pseudocysts.

A fetal ultrasound, or sonogram, is an imaging technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of a baby in the uterus.

Fetal ultrasound images can help your health care provider evaluate your baby's growth and development and determine how your pregnancy is progressing. A fetal ultrasound might also give you the chance to study your baby's profile months before delivery. In some cases, fetal ultrasound is used to evaluate possible problems or confirm a diagnosis.

Fetal ultrasound is often done during the first trimester to confirm and date the pregnancy and again during the second trimester — between 18 and 20 weeks — when anatomic details are visible. If your baby's health needs to be monitored more closely, ultrasounds might be repeated throughout the pregnancy.

First trimester screening is a prenatal test that offers early information about a baby's risk of certain chromosomal conditions — Down syndrome (trisomy 21) and Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18).

First trimester screening has two steps:

  • A blood test to measure levels of two pregnancy-specific substances in the mother's blood — pregnancy-associated plasma protein-A and human chorionic gonadotropin
  • An ultrasound exam to measure the size of the clear space in the tissue at the back of the baby's neck (nuchal translucency)

Typically, first trimester screening is done between weeks 11 and 14 of pregnancy — although a form of the screening can be done as early as nine weeks.

Using your age and the results of the blood test and the ultrasound, your health care provider can gauge your risk of carrying a baby who has Down syndrome or Edwards syndrome.

If your risk level is low, first trimester screening can offer reassurance of a healthy pregnancy.

If your risk level is moderate or high, you might choose to follow first trimester screening with another test that's more definitive.

An intravenous pyelogram (PIE-uh-loh-gram), also called an excretory urogram, is an X-ray exam of your urinary tract. An intravenous pyelogram lets your doctor view your kidneys, your bladder and the tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder (ureters). An intravenous pyelogram may be used to diagnose disorders that affect the urinary tract, such as kidney stones, bladder stones, enlarged prostate, kidney cysts or urinary tract tumors.

During an intravenous pyelogram, you'll have an X-ray dye (iodine contrast solution) injected into a vein in your arm. The dye flows into your kidneys, ureters and bladder, outlining each of these structures. X-ray pictures are taken at specific times during the exam, so your doctor can clearly see your urinary tract and assess how well it's working.

Light therapy is a way to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) by exposure to artificial light. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs at a certain time each year, usually in the fall or winter.

During light therapy, you sit or work near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light.

Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood, easing SAD symptoms. Using a light therapy box may also help with other types of depression, sleep disorders and other conditions. Light therapy is also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy.

Lung cancer screening is a test to look for signs of lung cancer in otherwise healthy people. Lung cancer screening is recommended for older adults who are longtime smokers.

Doctors use a low-dose computerized tomography (CT) scan of the lungs to look for lung cancer. If lung cancer is detected at a very early stage, it may be more likely to be cured.

Discuss the benefits and risks of lung cancer screening with your doctor. Together you can review your risk of lung cancer and decide whether screening is right for you.