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Chapter: Medical Surgical Nursing: Assessment of Digestive and Gastrointestinal Function

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Diagnostic Evaluation of Digestive and Gastrointestinal Function

Blood tests are ordered initially. Common blood tests include complete blood count (CBC), carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), liver function tests, serum cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Diagnostic Evaluation

Blood tests are ordered initially. Common blood tests include complete blood count (CBC), carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), liver function tests, serum cholesterol, and triglycerides. Test find-ings may reveal alterations in basal metabolic function and may indicate the severity of a disorder.

 

Many other modalities are available for diagnostic assessment of the GI tract. The majority of these tests and procedures are per-formed on an outpatient basis in special units designed for this purpose (eg, endoscopy or GI laboratory). The nurse supports and educates patients who are undergoing diagnostic evaluation, whether in an inpatient or an outpatient setting. Patients who re-quire such tests frequently are anxious, elderly, or debilitated. The preparation for many of these studies includes fasting, the use of laxatives or enemas, and ingestion or injection of a contrast agent or a radiopaque dye. These preparatory measures are poorly tol-erated by weak and many elderly patients and have the potential to cause fluid and electrolyte imbalances. If further assessment or treatment is needed after any outpatient procedure, the patient may be admitted to the hospital.

 

General nursing interventions for the patient who is having GI diagnostic assessment include the following:

 

        Providing general information about a healthy diet and the nutritional factors that can cause GI disturbances; after a diagnosis has been confirmed, the nurse provides informa-tion about specific nutrients that should be included in the diet

 

        Providing needed information about the test and the activ-ities required of the patient

 

        Providing instructions about postprocedure care and activ-ity restrictions

 

        Alleviating anxiety

 

        Helping the patient cope with discomfort

 

        Encouraging family members or others to offer emotional support to the patient during the diagnostic testing

 

        Assessing for adequate hydration before, during, and imme-diately after the procedure, and providing education about maintenance of hydration

 

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