Objective: The purpose of this study is to describe and discuss laboratory tests ordered on elite athletes in an interdisciplinary sports medicine clinic by a doctor of chiropractic over 1 calendar year.
Methods: A retrospective review of laboratory tests ordered during routine clinical practice as standard screening and diagnostic tests from November 1, 2009, to November 1, 2010 was performed. Data were collected during clinical encounters at one sports medicine clinic and entered into a database for analysis. Descriptive and frequency statistics were used to describe the tests ordered and the frequency of abnormal findings.
Results: Five hundred and thirty-nine studies were ordered for diagnostic and routine screenings on 137 athlete patients (86 males, 51 females), representing 49 types of tests. Sample sources included blood, urine, skin lesions, and fecal matter. The most commonly ordered tests were complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, serum ferritin, creatine kinase, serum iron and total iron binding capacity, total cortisol, thyroid stimulating hormone, and lipid panels. There were 217 studies (40%) flagged as abnormal by the reporting laboratory.
Conclusion: This report provides greater insight into the diverse array of laboratory studies ordered over a 1-year period for diagnosis and screening of elite athletes. A high percentage of the results were flagged as abnormal by the laboratory. These findings show that the unique physiology of the elite athlete must be considered when interpreting laboratory findings in this population.
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