Diagnosing Disease

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An X-Ray machine will emit electromagnetic radiation with a very short wavelength (X-Rays).

A sheet of photographic paper will be placed in an envelope, to prevent it from absorbing light. Patient's body will be placed over this and a beam of X-Rays will be directed at the body part. These X-Rays will be absorbed by the body, denser tissues will absorb more, meaning they will appear lighter on the image. Softer tissues absorb less, so appear darker on the image. The body part being examined will abled to be seen when the photographic paper is held to a negative pannel.

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Blood Pressure

The GP will measure blood pressure using a sphygmomanoeter.

A cuff will be placed around the patient's upper arm, just above the elbow. The cuff will be inflated, which restrics arterial blood flow and stops the pulse. The GP will then place a stethoscope below the cuff and slowly let air out of the cuff, whilst listening for a pulse. This reading is the systolic blood pressure (pressure of heartbeat). More air will then be let out of the cuff until the sound of the pulse disappears, to give the diastolic blood pressure (pressure in between each heartbeat).

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Tissue Biopsy

A small sample of tissues is removed through a hollow needle. The cells in this sample will then be cultured/examined for biochemical or gentic investigation. They can also be examined visually under a microscope.

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MRI Scan

Patient will be asked to remove any jewellery and asked if they suffer from claustrophobia.

The patient will then lie on a table, which slides into a cylinderical tunnel. This tunnel contains a large electromagnet which creates a strong magnetic field when a current is passed through it. This current causes all of the hydrogen atoms in the body to align parallel to each other. A strong radio wave is then emitted, which knocks the hydrogen atoms out of place, as they realign they emit radio signals, which are picked up by a reciever and transmitted to a computer. The computer then puts several slices together to produce a 3D image.

Fat will show up brighter on the image, due to it's high hydrogen content.

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Transplant Surgery

The removal of a damged/diseased organ and replacing it with a healthy organ from a donor. The donor organ will have been matched to patient, to reduce chances of rejecion. Patient will also have immunosuppressant drugs, to reduce the chance of rejection.

The surgery will be carried out under aseptic conditions, in order to reduce the risk of infection.

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Blood Tests for Anaemia

A tight band is placed around the arm (tourniquet). This squeezes the arm, temporarily slowing down blood flow and causing the vein to swell with blood, making it easier for the blood sample to be taken.

The doctor or nurse will clean the area with antispectic. A needle attached to a syringe is pushed into the vein, the syringe is used to draw out a sample of blood and the needle is removed.

Pressure is then applied to the area using a cotton wool pad to stop the bleeding and prevent bruising.

When testing for anaemia the doctors are looking for a result of 4.2 to 5.4 million cells/mcl (negative result, so don't have anaemia).

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Smear Tests

All women aged 25 to 64 are invited for cervical screenings.

The woman will be asked to undress from the waist down and lie down. They will have their knees up and legs flopped down. The nurse will then gently insert a speculum into the vagina, this holds the vaginal walls open so the cervix can be seen. A small brush-like instrument will then be used to gently collect cells from the surface of the cervix.

The head of the brush is then broken off into a smal pot of preservative liquid and sent to a laboratory, where it is treated to remove any other material that may have been picked up e.g. mucus/blood and then examined under a microscope to see whether there are any abdnormal cells or not.

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Home Nursing - Self Treatment

For minor illnesses self-treatment is often adequate.

Forms of self-treatment include:

  • taking non-prescription drugs
  • resting
  • drinking plenty of fluids
  • keeping warm
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Home Nursing - Informal Carers

Informal Careres include people like parents with children who are ill or adults looking after the elderly or disabled relatives.

This care includes:

  • basic monitoring of health - temperature or physical signs of improvement
  • supervsing treatment 
  • maintaining hygiene
  • providing nutrition
  • providing social contact and stimulation
  • communication with support services such as NHS Direct
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Hospital Nursing

Hospital Nursing involves some of the skills listed above, but at a higher level of sophistication.

  • more specialised monitoring equipment
  • less privacy - due to being on wards (sharing toilets)
  • quick response to changes in condition
  • hospital bugs
  • accurate recording keeping - for shift changes
  • staff are qualified and maintain patient confidentiality
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Drug Treatment - Drug Names

A drug usually has 3 names.

  • brand name
  • chemical name
  • genreic name
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Drug Treatment - Classification

Drugs can be grouped together by their chemical structure - similar chemically structured drugs can be grouped together.

They can also be classified by the effect that they have on the body.

Finally they can be classified the disorder that they are designed to treat.

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Drug Treatment - Administering Drugs

By mouth...

Drugs are easily taken by mouth by the person themselves. They also allow slow continous release. However, they do not give instant relief and some can be destroyed by the digestive system.


Give fast relief to the respiratory system and are self administered. However their benifits are restricted to the respiratory system.


They are gradually absorbed into the bloodstream for drugs that cannot be delivered by mouth. Howver they can be uncomfortable and embarrassing to use.

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Drug Treatment - Administering Drugs


Fastly delivered, as they can be placed directly into the bloodstream and are useful for drugs that would be absorbed by the digestive system. However they can cause discomfort and are not usually self-administered.


Self-administration for localised treatement, but they are slow acting and limited to tissues to tissues just under the skin.

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Factors influencing Effectiveness

The outcome of treatment can be influenced by a range of factors such as:

  • early diagnosis - especially with cancers
  • lifestyle choices - smoking, alcohol intake, diet etc
  • age - older people's tissues tend to take longer to repair
  • health of immune system
  • genotype - variations in body chemistry
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The purpose of dialysis is to clean the patient's blood (remove toxins such as urea from the blood). Haemodialysis takes place outside of the body.

An incision will be made in patient's arm/leg. A shunt vessel will the be inserted and a needle is inserted to connect the vessel to a tube, which leads to a dialysis machine. The patient's blood is then pumped through the machine across a membrane and waste from the blood diffuses out and a saline solution is fed back into the blood.

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