In the last few years there’s been a rise in the number of companies offering private health screening. Shortly before I began my career as a personal trainer in London, I took advantage of a special offer from BUPA for a comprehensive health screening at one of their central London clinics.
It was a thorough set of tests, including a urine sample, a stool sample, several test-tubes of blood, a series of heart tests, a lung-function test where I was rigged up to monitors and ran on a treadmill wearing a mask to test gas-exchange, and various strength and flexibility tests.
Some people like to dig even deeper, and take advantage of the following:
Total Body MRI
This scan uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to take pictures of your insides. The MRI machine is very loud and you’re generally given headphones or ear-plugs to make it bearable. The MRI is able to detect abnormal tissue, such as tumours, and gives very detailed images, including images of your bones.
This is less time-consuming and less expensive than an MRI, and significantly there are limitations to the structures an ultrasound can scan, usually limited to internal organs, not bone or soft tissue or blood vessels. The ultrasound probe uses high-frequency sound waves which create echoes, from which a moving image emerges.
Transabdominal ultrasound scans are the best way to detect gallstones. However, ultrasound scans are not as effective in detecting kidney stones, as 33% of kidney stones are missed by ultrasound scans.
Also known as a CAT scan, (the full name is computerised tomography) this scan produces detailed images of internal organs, soft tissue, bones, blood vessels.
The CT scan takes a series of specialised X-Ray pictures in rapid succession, which when put together form a comprehensive 2-dimensional general image, but not as detailed an image as an MRI scan. CT scans are cheaper and more widely used than MRI scans, and not as good as MRI scans at detecting abnormal tissue at the molecular level, although they can detect tumours.
CT scans are also the best method of detecting the size and location of kidney stones.
This is a more advanced and more expensive type of CT scan. The full name is Positron Emission Tomography CT Scan. It uses X-Ray and a radioactive tracer (injected into the relevant body part) to detect cancer on a molecular level.
This measures bone-density and osteoporosis risk, and detects other potential bone diseases.
ECHO Heart Scan
Also known as an echocardiogram, this is a specialised cardiac ultrasound scan, which produces images of the heart chambers, valves, vessels and arteries, to assess the structure and function of the heart.
Also known as an ECG, this scan measures your heart-rate, heart rhythm and electrical activity.
(Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London with over 20 years experience, and also an online nutrition coach.)