Diagnostic services

We provide a full range of diagnostic services at our main hospital site. Diagnostics are used to investigate a wide range of illnesses and conditions.

We provide diagnostic services for Inpatients, Outpatients (who attend an outpatient clinic appointment), for GP patients (being managed directly by their GP) and for some other healthcare providers.

Some tests can be completed the same day as your attendance to hospital, others may require you to be booked for an appointment and to come to a specific unit.

We are required to complete diagnostic tests within six weeks of their referral (or sooner if considered more urgent or on a specific pathway).  Your test will be reported on by an appropriately trained person, which may be a Doctor, Radiographer, Nurse or Technician/Physiologist; once the report has been finished and finalized, it will be sent electronically to the clinician who originally requested for the test to be completed.

Some examples of the more common diagnostic services are:

This is a non-surgical puncture of a vein, normally in the arm, to withdraw a small amount of blood, which is then sent to the laboratory for testing.  It should be a quick, pain-free experience, but if you are nervous, do talk to your Phlebotomist who will take plenty of time to talk through the procedure and what to expect.

The Imaging service consists of a number of services: MRI, CT, Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine, Dexa, Plain Film (X-Ray), Fluoroscopy and Mammography.

We offer ‘open-access’ to Plain Film for GP patients – just come to the department with your form anytime Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm.

All other services are provided as booked appointments.

The National Breast Screening Programme is delivered by Medway Foundation Trust for women of eligible age.  Women are invited by the Breast Screening Programme to attend an appointment for a Mammogram, every 3 years, on a mobile unit (or sometimes at the hospital), local to their home address, undertaken by a female practitioner.  Breast screening aims to find breast cancers early. It uses an X-ray test called a mammogram that can spot cancers when they're too small to see or feel.  Whilst a mammogram can sometimes be uncomfortable for the woman, it should not cause you any pain.

Also often referred to as the ‘Path Lab’, the team are responsible for processing, analysing and reporting on tissue, cell and bodily fluid samples (such as blood, semen, urine or fecal). 

The lab process samples for Medway Foundation Trust, Darent Valley Hospital, all GP’s across Dartford, Gravesham, Medway and Swale and a number of other providers.  Sometimes your sample will need to be sent to another laboratory, such as in Maidstone, Leeds or London, if we are asking specific questions or testing for specific diseases.

The lab will send the results to the referring clinician electronically, who will then use this information to determine what disease, illness or condition you may have or how your existing condition has progressed.

If you are asked to provide a sample to our lab, please follow the information and guidance on labelling and transporting your own sample.

  • Cardiophysiology

Cardiac physiology (or heart function) is the study of healthy, unimpaired function of the heart: involving blood flow, the structure of the heart, the electrical conduction system of the heart and how these interact and depend on one another.

A Cardiac Physiologist will see in you in clinic and will complete a range of tests as requested by a clinician, which may include ECG’s (heart tracings), Echocardiograms (an ultrasound of the heart structures), 24 hour and seven day Holter monitors (extended length ECGs) and blood pressure measurements. 

Cardiac Physiology tests are painless to undertake.

  • Biopsy and Fine Needle Aspiration

The Imaging Service, as well as other teams across the hospital, may be asked to undertake a Biopsy or Fine Need Aspiration (FNA) as part of your diagnostic tests, in order to determine what may be causing your symptoms.   You will have been referred for a biopsy, if your doctor would like to examine a mass (tumour), growth or other abnormality, such as a change in an area of your skin.

During an FNA, a hollow needle is inserted into a mass for sampling of cells that, after being stained, will be examined under a microscope in the Pathology Laboratory.  You will be given a local anaesthetic and should feel no pain during the procedure.  The results will be sent to the referring clinician.

During a biopsy, the clinician undertaking the procedure will take a sample of cells / tissue, but different to an FNA, a biopsy can be done in a number of different ways.  Clinician’s will use a form of imaging to guide them during the procedure, so will often attend for a CT, Ultrasound or MRI, or possibly an endoscopy or colonoscopy.  Most Biopsy procedures only require local anaesthetic – you should feel no pain during the procedure and will normally be able to go once the procedure is carried out.

More  information is available on the NHS website here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Biopsy/

Audiology is a specialty providing diagnosis and management of patients with hearing and balance disorders. This includes tinnitus, auditory processing disorders and the provision of specialist hearing aids, such as bone anchored hearing aids.

A hearing test is a common test, often completed in your local high street in a specially trained and designed facility.   However, if you have symptoms that are continuing to cause you problems or have been diagnosed with some hearing loss, you may be asked to visit the Audiology Team, who will undertake further tests to diagnose cause and to identify the best treatment/care option.  The team can also help diagnose problems with your balance and coordination.

The Endoscopy unit undertakes a variety of tests that use ‘endoscopes’, commonly to look at the bowel, oesophagus or the urinary system.  The test will be completed in a special unit, and you will have a period of recovery following the procedure.  The test involves inserting a camera into your body, for the doctor to be able to view internal structures and possible changes, take a video and or pictures to refer to and complete a biopsy sample if necessary.

You will be asked to complete ‘preparation’ ahead of your procedure, which may be a change to the times, what and the way you eat ahead of the procedure, or you may be prescribed a medication to take.  Whilst any form of procedure involving a scope is not 100% pain free, every effort will be made for you to be as comfortable as possible – your doctor will discuss your preferences with you when they refer you.


Find us

Please ask for the diagnostic service you are looking for at main reception.