Talking Money with Your Doctor: Drugs and Tests for Less

Written by Gary Cordingley

Would you buy groceries without knowing their prices? I suspect not. You probably comparerepparttar costs of different boxes of cereal in order to getrepparttar 148663 best deal. But when it comes to medical care, do you even ask forrepparttar 148664 prices involved?

While it's true that good health is priceless, and cutting corners on health care is risky, there is still much you can do in order to obtainrepparttar 148665 same good value in medical care that you insist upon in other areas of your life.

If you lack a prescription plan that pays for your medications, it's high time you discussedrepparttar 148666 cost of drugs with your doctor. Your doctor's number-one choice in medication for your medical condition might be expensive. There are usually reasonable alternatives that cost less. You should take advantage of your doctor's expertise in estimating trade-offs involved with each of your options.

Apart from prices, your doctor is already balancing a number of important factors in making a drug recommendation. First, of course,repparttar 148667 drug needs to be medically effective—otherwise, why bother? The doctor also takes into consideration what other medications you are taking, what other illnesses you have, your age, your gender,repparttar 148668 drug's side-effect spectrum, and also its convenience aspects, like how many times per day it has to be taken and whether or not blood-tests are required to monitor it. A drug that might score high on effectiveness and side-effects might still be inconvenient. An alterative might be both convenient and effective, but pose a higher risk of side-effects.

Sorepparttar 148669 truth ofrepparttar 148670 matter is that your doctor is already sorting through all sorts of trade-offs in choosing a medication to prescribe. Factoring inrepparttar 148671 prices of alternative drugs just builds onrepparttar 148672 comparing-apples-to-oranges process you are paying your doctor to do for you inrepparttar 148673 first place. But ifrepparttar 148674 doctor doesn't know that you lack a prescription plan, he or she might not includerepparttar 148675 cost of drugs in these reckonings and you might be stuck with a prescription that wrecks your budget.

The next step in obtaining maximum value for your investment in medication is to shop it around. Let your fingers dorepparttar 148676 walking by phoning several pharmacies for a price-check. I even write out a script for my shy patients who get nervous when they talk to medical personnel. It goes something like this: "Hi, I'd like to do a price-check on my prescription medication. How much would it cost to buy thirty furosemide 20 milligram (or whatever) pills? Thank you very much. Have a great day!"

CT and MRI Scans in Neurological Practice: A Quick Overview

Written by Gary Cordingley

Before computed tomographic (CT) scans became available inrepparttar 1970s, there was no good method for imagingrepparttar 148662 brain. The available methods and technologies struck aroundrepparttar 148663 target without quite hittingrepparttar 148664 bull's-eye.

We had skull x-rays which imagedrepparttar 148665 bony brain-case, but notrepparttar 148666 brain itself. We had arteriograms which imagedrepparttar 148667 insides of blood-vessels supplyingrepparttar 148668 brain. We had nuclear brain scans which imaged chunks of brain that were recently damaged. We had a particularly nasty test called a pneumoencephalogram (PEG) in whichrepparttar 148669 doctor squirted air through a spinal tap needle and encouraged it to bubble around and insiderepparttar 148670 brain by turningrepparttar 148671 patient every which-a-way—including upside-down—while x-ray pictures showed whererepparttar 148672 air could and couldn't go. Finally,repparttar 148673 most accurate method was not a physical picture at all, but a mind's-eye picture withinrepparttar 148674 brain of an examining neurologist. Yet diagnoses still got made and patients did get treated.

CT scans revolutionizedrepparttar 148675 practice of neurology. It's not thatrepparttar 148676 other methods disappeared (well, yes, PEGs thankfully did disappear) but that CT scans vastly improvedrepparttar 148677 accuracy of diagnosis and treatment. Even when CT scans didn't showrepparttar 148678 disease itself (e.g. multiple sclerosis or a fresh stroke) they assistedrepparttar 148679 diagnostic process by provingrepparttar 148680 absence of a brain tumor, abscess or hemorrhage that were also onrepparttar 148681 list of diagnostic possibilities.

CT scans did (and still do) this by sending x-ray beams throughrepparttar 148682 head at various angles and collectingrepparttar 148683 x-ray beams onrepparttar 148684 opposite side that were not absorbed byrepparttar 148685 head. Then magic occurs. A series of images appear on a computer monitor or on x-ray film as ifrepparttar 148686 head had been run through a giant salami-cutter andrepparttar 148687 slices were laid out flat and in sequence.

On CT picturesrepparttar 148688 different parts ofrepparttar 148689 head are displayed in various shades of gray according to how much they absorb x-rays. The skull-bone absorbs x-raysrepparttar 148690 most and shows asrepparttar 148691 whitest component. Atrepparttar 148692 other end ofrepparttar 148693 gray-scale,repparttar 148694 watery spaces in and aroundrepparttar 148695 brain absorb x-raysrepparttar 148696 least and show asrepparttar 148697 blackest components. The brain itself is somewhere in between, showing up inrepparttar 148698 mid-gray range. Abnormal components, like brain tumors and blood-collections, are identified not just by appearing in their own shades of gray, but also by their locations and shapes. Creating a second set of slices afterrepparttar 148699 patient receives an infusion of intravenous dye provides an additional dimension to imaging not unlike that provided byrepparttar 148700 older, nuclear scans.

Then inrepparttar 148701 1980s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans burst uponrepparttar 148702 scene and astonishedrepparttar 148703 medical community by not just imagingrepparttar 148704 brain itself, but by doing so in a brand-new way. Instead of imagingrepparttar 148705 extent to whichrepparttar 148706 head's different components absorb x-rays, MRIs instead focus on water-molecules. To be more precise, MRIs imagerepparttar 148707 rate at which spinning hydrogen-atoms of water molecules within different parts ofrepparttar 148708 brain either line-up or fall out or alignment with a strong magnetic field. These differing rates of magnetization or de-magnetization are fed into a computer. Then magic occurs yet again. A series of slice-like images is created and displayed on a computer-screen or x-ray-type film in shades of gray. Abnormal structures, like brain-tumors orrepparttar 148709 plaques of multiple sclerosis, are displayed in their own shades of gray and are also recognizable by their shapes and locations. Obtaining another set of images after intravenous administration of gadolinium—the MRI equivalent of x-ray dye—also adds diagnostic information.

Cont'd on page 2 ==> © 2005
Terms of Use