I went in to have a ganglion cyst removed from my wrist that I knew was a ganglion. I had one in the same place five years ago. The surgeon still insisted on sending the tissue for lab testing. It cost me an extra $250.00 to tell me what I already knew -- it was a ganglion cyst. Are these lab tests really needed?
You are not alone in asking this question. Surgeons and pathologists (those who do the lab tests of tissues surgically removed) agree that many tests simply aren't needed. In fact, it is estimated that up to 40 per cent of all lab tests aren't necessary.
Tissue such as the appendix, tonsils, gallbladders, hernias, and intervertebral discs really don't need to be microscopically examined just because they have been removed from the body. Pathologists have even questioned the need to test arthritic bone removed when joint replacements are done. But in some cases, there's a state law in place requiring it, the patients expect it, or there is a concern about lawsuits.
Recommendations to limit (and sometimes eliminate) testing have already been made and put into place in Europe. With more attention being paid to reducing health care costs, we can expect to see similar changes made in the U.S. policy. Surgeons will be allowed (and even encouraged) to limit pathologic testing when there is limited or no need/benefit for the test.