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The Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests, sixth edition, is intended to serve as a pocket reference manual for medical, nursing, and other health professional students, house officers, and practicing physicians and nurses. It is a quick reference guide to the selection and interpretation of commonly used diagnostic tests, including laboratory procedures in the clinical setting, laboratory tests (chemistry, hematology, immunology, microbiology, pharmacogenetic, and molecular and genetic testing), diagnostic imaging tests (plain radiography, CT, MRI, and ultrasonography), electrocardiography, echocardiography, and the use of tests in differential diagnosis, helpful algorithms, and nomograms and reference material.

This book enables readers to understand commonly used diagnostic tests and diagnostic approaches to common disease states.

Outstanding Features

• Over 450 tests presented in a concise, consistent, and readable format.
• Full coverage of more than two dozen new laboratory tests.
• Expanded content regarding molecular and genetic tests, including pharmacogenetic tests.
• New section on basic echocardiography.
• Updated and additional microbiologic coverage of emerging (new) and reemerging pathogens and infectious agents.
• Fields covered: internal medicine, pediatrics, surgery, neurology, and obstetrics and gynecology.
• Costs and risks of various procedures and tests.
• Full literature citations with PubMed (PMID) numbers included for each reference.
• An index for quick reference on the back cover.


This pocket reference manual is not intended to include all diagnostic tests or disease states. The authors have selected the tests and diseases that are most common and relevant to the general practice of medicine.

The Guide is divided into 10 sections:

1. Diagnostic Testing and Medical Decision Making
2. Point-of-Care Testing and Provider-Performed Microscopy
3. Common Laboratory Tests: Selection and Interpretation
4. Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Pharmacogenetic Testing
5. Microbiology: Test Selection
6. Diagnostic Imaging: Test Selection and Interpretation
7. Basic Electrocardiography and Echocardiography
8. Diagnostic Tests in Differential Diagnosis
9. Diagnostic Algorithms
10. Nomograms and Reference Material

New to This Edition

1. More than two dozen new or substantially revised clinical laboratory test entries, including: urine albumin, beta-hCG, CCP antibody, celiac disease serology, serum C-telopeptide and urine N-telopeptide, dehydroepiandrosterone, estradiol, glucagon, hepatitis E, intrinsic factor blocking antibody, urine iodine, islet cell antibody, kappa and lambda light chains, osteocalcin, pancreatic elastase, Quantiferon TB, somatostatin, and thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin.
2. Microbiologic tests for emerging (new) and reemerging pathogens and infectious agents.
3. More than two dozen new or substantially revised tables and algorithms concerning diagnostic approaches to: amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea; ascites and ascitic fluid profiles in various disease states; autoantibodies; molecular diagnostic testing in various genetic diseases; common serologic test patterns in hepatitis B virus infection; hemochromatosis; hyperaldosteronism; female infertility; classification and immunophenotyping of leukemias and lymphomas; severity index for acute pancreatitis; pulmonary embolism, including the revised Geneva Score for pulmonary embolism probability assessment, including a prognostic model (PESI Score) and risk stratification; clinical and laboratory diagnosis in untreated patients with syphilis; genetics and laboratory characteristics of thalassemia syndromes; summary of blood component therapy in transfusion; and diagnostic evaluation of valvular heart disease.

Intended Audience

Medical students will find the concise summary of diagnostic laboratory, microbiologic, and imaging studies, and of electrocardiography and echocardiography in this pocket-sized book of great help during clinical ward rotations.

Busy house officers, physician's assistants, nurse practitioners, and physicians will find the clear organization and current literature references useful in devising proper patient management.

Nurses and other health practitioners will find the format and scope of the Guide valuable for understanding the use of laboratory tests in patient management.


The editors acknowledge the invaluable editorial contributions of William M. Detmer, MD, and Tony M. Chou, MD, to the first three editions of this book.
In addition, the late G. Thomas Evans, Jr., MD, contributed the electrocardiography section of Chapter 7 for the second and third editions. In the fourth, fifth, and this sixth edition, this section has been revised by Fred M. Kusumoto, MD.
We thank Jane Jang, BS, MT (ASCP) SM, for her revision of the microbiology chapter in the fifth edition. In this sixth edition, the chapter has been substantially revised by Barbara Haller, MD, PhD.
We thank our associate authors for their contributions to this book and are grateful to the many clinicians, residents, and students who have made useful suggestions.
We welcome comments and recommendations from our readers for future editions.

Diana Nicoll, MD, PhD, MPA
Chuanyi Mark Lu, MD
Michael Pignone, MD, MPH
Stephen J. McPhee, MD

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