Laboratory and Imaging Diagnosis
It may seem odd to begin the chapter on laboratory and imaging diagnosis by quoting Dr. Mayo’s words disparaging machine-made diagnosis. Certainly we all value the tremendous advances that have been made in both the clinical laboratory and the various types of diagnostic imaging. However, the ready availability of just this sort of testing has fostered an attitude that the medical history and physical examination are just not as important as they were a generation ago. Based on a three-plus-decade-long career as a medical school professor, I can attest that this belief system has resulted in half-hearted instruction in history-taking and physical examination skills in teaching the current generation of medical students and residents, a skill deficit which, I believe, would sadden the brothers Mayo and the other medical giants of their day. This book has, in contrast to current trends, focused on the diagnostic clues to be found in the medical history and on physical examination. The laboratory and imaging options we have today must supplement, not replace, basic clinical acumen. With that preface, let us look at some of the benefits that the use of machines can provide.