what tests are done for unexplained weight loss mayo clinic


Unexplained Weight Loss: An Overview

Unexplained weight loss can be a cause for concern as it may indicate an underlying health condition. Mayo Clinic, a leading medical institution, offers comprehensive testing to determine the cause of unexplained weight loss. This article delves into the various tests done at Mayo Clinic to investigate unexplained weight loss and provides a detailed understanding of each test.

Testing for Unexplained Weight Loss at Mayo Clinic

When an individual experiences significant weight loss without any apparent reason, Mayo Clinic follows a systematic approach to identify and diagnose the underlying cause. Through a series of tests and examinations, physicians at Mayo Clinic strive to uncover the reasons behind unexplained weight loss and provide appropriate treatment. Here are the key tests performed at Mayo Clinic:

1. Complete Blood Count (CBC)

A complete blood count is a common initial test conducted to analyze the different components of blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Anemia or leukemia, conditions that may cause weight loss, can be detected through CBC. Additionally, abnormal levels of certain blood cell components can provide valuable clues about an underlying condition.

CBC involves taking a blood sample, typically from a vein in the arm, which is then analyzed in the laboratory. The results of the test help doctors assess the overall health of an individual and determine if further testing is required.

2. Blood Chemistry Panel

A blood chemistry panel, also known as a basic metabolic panel, measures various substances in the blood, including electrolytes, glucose, and kidney and liver function indicators. This panel helps assess the functioning of vital organs and provides insights into any potential abnormalities that may be contributing to unexplained weight loss.

During this test, a small sample of blood is collected and sent to the laboratory for analysis. The results obtained can guide further investigations or help narrow down potential causes.

3. Thyroid Function Tests

Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in regulating metabolism. Imbalances or disorders related to the thyroid gland can lead to weight changes. Thus, checking thyroid function is an essential part of the diagnostic process for unexplained weight loss.

Mayo Clinic conducts various thyroid function tests, including measuring the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), T3 (triiodothyronine), and T4 (thyroxine). Abnormal results can indicate hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, conditions that can be linked to weight loss or gain.

4. Imaging Tests

Imaging tests can help detect abnormalities in organs or tissues that may contribute to unexplained weight loss. Mayo Clinic employs a range of imaging techniques depending on the individual's symptoms and suspected areas of concern.

One common imaging test is an abdominal ultrasound, which uses sound waves to produce images of organs in the abdominal area. This test helps detect abnormalities in the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and other abdominal structures.

Additionally, computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered to provide more detailed information about specific areas of concern. These imaging tests can identify abnormalities or tumors that contribute to weight loss.

5. Endoscopy and Biopsy

In certain cases, physicians at Mayo Clinic may recommend endoscopy, a procedure that allows for a closer examination of the digestive tract. Endoscopy can help identify conditions such as peptic ulcers, gastritis, or even cancers that can cause unexplained weight loss.

During an endoscopy, a long, flexible tube with a light and camera attached, called an endoscope, is inserted into the mouth and guided through the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. If any abnormalities or suspicious areas are found, a small tissue sample, known as a biopsy, may be taken for further analysis.


Unexplained weight loss can be a symptom of various underlying conditions, ranging from metabolic disorders to gastrointestinal diseases. Mayo Clinic employs a comprehensive set of tests to investigate and diagnose the root cause of unexplained weight loss. These tests include complete blood count, blood chemistry panel, thyroid function tests, imaging tests, endoscopy, and biopsies when necessary. The combination of these tests helps the medical experts at Mayo Clinic to provide accurate diagnoses and tailored treatment plans, allowing individuals to regain their health and well-being. If you experience unexplained weight loss, it is crucial to seek medical attention and undergo the appropriate testing to address any underlying health concerns.


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