A test panel is a medical term that refers to a series of tests that have been pre-combined to create a comprehensive analysis of a specific medical condition. It is usually used to help doctors and analysts accurately diagnose and treat a certain disease. Test panels are given to a patient not only to single out the disease, but also as a preventative measure in routine health checkups. A person can also undergo a test panel to determine whether or not he is using any substances like drugs or alcohol.
Individual tests comprised in a test panel are selected based on how the tests are related to each other, and the specific type of panel desired. For example, a complete blood count (CBC) or a blood panel that analyzes blood will have tests such as white and red blood cells count, platelet count, and sugar levels contained in the blood. These individual tests, however, may not be included in a liver panel, which also requires blood from the patient but analyzes different elements such as different enzymes and protein within the blood. Test panels are also created based on the analysis samples like urine, saliva, or skin cells, as these samples do not always contain the same elements; therefore, some tests would be deemed pointless.
Aside from blood and liver panels, there are other common test panels available, such as cardiac risk, renal, and metabolic panels. The cardiac risk panel, as suggested by the term, analyzes the health of the heart and looks for any kinds of inflammation in the body that can cause blood flow restriction. This test panel includes a CBC, a lipid panel that measures cholesterol levels, and other tests that can add up to more than 20 individual tests. The renal panel specifically assesses the kidney by analyzing elements in the blood such as calcium, creatinine, and glucose. The metabolic panel, on the other hand, is a combination of tests intended for both the liver and the kidney, as well as the electrolytes and blood sugar levels of the patient.
The benefit of a test panel is it gives a very thorough assessment of the sample, and is generally less expensive because it is very cost-effective for laboratories to do large batches of tests at a time. Test results are also quickly determined. The disadvantage, however, of test panels is they tend to be less accurate when more tests are included in one panel, especially if laboratory instruments and chemical solutions are subpar. In statistical studies, a couple of tests in a panel consisting of 20 tests may show abnormal or inaccurate results.