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Questions and Answers

You may be provided with containers for collection of certain specimens at home (e.g. urine or stool). Please follow the complete instructions available on Patient Specimen Collection Instructions, and label the specimen containers with your first and last name, health card number and date and time of collection. When you deliver the specimens to our Patient Service Centre, please wait for our lab staff to verify all required information on the specimens and laboratory requisition to ensure that the sample is properly identified before you leave.

In Ontario, the majority of routine laboratory tests ordered by your doctor are covered under Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). However, there are certain tests that are not insured through OHIP and such tests must be paid for by the patient.

We recognize that your time is valuable, so we try to keep wait times as short as possible. Early mornings are usually high volume times so your wait time may be a little longer. We greatly appreciate your patience and understanding as our dedicated staff devotes their full attention to each and every patient. An average visit takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes. Some tests (e.g. oral glucose tolerance test) require that you remain in the Patient Service centre for a longer period to complete blood draws at specific timed intervals.

To locate Alpha’s Patient Service Centres click on Patient Service Centre Locator for a complete listing, including addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, Google map and directions.

Please note that days and hours of operation vary by location.

If you experience anxiety when having their blood drawn, please do let us in know in advance. Our skilled and experienced staff will do their best to help you to remain as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

How soon your doctor receives your test results depends on the type of tests requested. Routine tests are reported to the referring doctor within 24-48 hours, while certain more specialized tests and bacterial cultures require a much longer processing time. Abnormal or clinically significant results are communicated to your doctor as soon as possible. Please call your doctor’s office to confirm the availability of your test results prior to booking your next appointment.

Most tests do not require an appointment for a blood collection, urine sample collection or Electrocardiogram (ECG).

Tests that do require an appointment include:

  • Holter Monitoring
  • Lactose Tolerance tests
  • Xylose Tolerance tests

If your doctor has ordered the above tests, please use the Patient Service Centre Locator to select the Patient Service Centre that is most convenient for you and phone the location to schedule an appointment.

Food is broken down into simpler forms (glucose) by the digestive tract and is released into the bloodstream, which then circulates and helps provide energy to the body cells. Therefore, the amount of glucose present in the blood sample after having a large meal will be higher than any other time of the day. Likewise, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels measured before a meal are lower than the reading taken after a meal. In brief, consuming food before blood collection gives inaccurate results, because the test outcomes are influenced by the type of food and the size of the serving.

You will need to bring a completed laboratory test requisition which has been signed by your doctor, and your health insurance card. If you were asked by your doctor to collect any specimen(s) at home, then also bring those with you at the time of your visit.

Prior to your test, you must not have anything to eat, drink or chew, for a minimum of 12 hours prior to the blood collection. This includes coffee, juice, tea, alcohol, chewing gum, candy or lozenge. You may drink water as usual. Note that there must be absolutely no additives to the water. Please check with your doctor about any medications that you are taking, and do not discontinue your medications unless authorized to do so by your doctor.

You will need to bring a completed laboratory test requisition which has been signed by your doctor, and your health insurance card. If you were asked by your doctor to collect any specimen(s) at home, then also bring those with you at the time of your visit.

Although not all blood tests call for fasting prior to blood collection, there are certain types of tests for which fasting is necessary to ensure results are clinically relevant. Types of blood tests that do require fasting include: glucose test, glucose tolerance test (GTT), Lactose and Xylose tolerance tests, cholesterol test, HDL/LDL cholesterol, Triglycerides , Lipoprotein phenotyping and homocysteine.

For further information pertaining to fasting requirements and other preparation, please refer to Patient Preparation Instructions and Test Requirement Manual, or call our Client Services Department at: (416) 449-2166 and press 1 .

There are no risks as no electricity is sent through the body.

When the ECG test is complete, the data is sent to a lab where a report is created and returned to your doctor. Your doctor then uses the information provided by the ECG to diagnose and to recommend further treatment for you.

The ECG test takes approximately 10-15 minutes once you are called into the ECG Room.

An ECG is a painless, non-invasive procedure. The electrodes may feel cold when first applied. In rare cases, some people may develop a mild rash or irritation where the patches were placed.

You will need to bring a completed laboratory test requisition which has been signed by your doctor, and your health insurance card. If you were asked by your doctor to collect any specimen(s) at home, then also bring those with you at the time of your visit.

You do not require an appointment for an ECG test. The test is available at any of our Patient Service Centres (PSCs). Please see Patient Service Centre Locator for details of hours of operation, addresses, phone numbers and maps for our PSC’s.

You will be asked to lie down. The staff at our Patient Service Centre will clean several areas on your arms, legs, and chest, and then attach small patches called electrodes to the areas. It may be necessary to shave or clip some hair so the patches stick to the skin.

The electrodes are connected by wires to a machine that records the heart’s electrical signals .You usually need to remain still during the procedure. You may also ask you to hold your breath for a few seconds as the test is being done. Any movement, including muscle tremors such as shivering, can alter the results. So it is important to be relaxed and relatively warm during an ECG recording.

To locate Alpha’s Patient Service Centres click on Patient Service Centre Locator for a complete listing, including addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, Google map and directions.

An electrocardiogram is a representation of the heart’s electrical activity recorded from electrodes on the body surface.

The ECG is widely used in patients with suspected or known heart disease. It can be used to measure any damage to the heart, how fast your heart is beating, whether it is beating normally, and effects of drugs or devices used to control the heart (such as a pacemaker).

A Holter ECG is a non-invasive test.

Special considerations:

  • The Holter Monitor may not be used in the shower.
  • Electrodes must be firmly attached to the chest – it is not allowed to remove the device or the electrodes so the equipment gets an accurate recording of the heart’s activity.
  • Avoid magnets, metal detectors, electric blankets and high-voltage areas while wearing the digital holter.

When a Holter monitoring study is complete, the data is sent to a lab where a report is created and sent to your doctor. Your doctor then uses the information provided by the Holter monitor to diagnose and recommend further treatment for you.

You will need to bring a completed laboratory test requisition which has been signed by your doctor, and your health insurance card.

It takes about 10-15 minutes for our staff to attach the electrodes to your chest and provide an explanation of the procedure. At the end of the continuous monitoring period requested by your doctor you must return to the same Patient Service Centre to disconnect the electrodes and return the Holter Monitor.

You must make an appointment for a Holter Monitor test. Please see Patient Service Centre Locator for details of hours of operation, addresses, phone numbers and map for our PSCs and call the location of your choice to schedule an appointment.

To locate Alpha’s Patient Service Centres click on Patient Service Centre Locator for a complete listing, including addresses, phone numbers, hours of operation, Google map and directions.

The Holter Monitor test allows your daily heart rhythm to be analyzed. A diary of routines is also kept to correlate activity to heart rhythm and rate. This test is widely used in patients with suspected or known heart disease. The extended recording period is used to identify occasional rhythm disturbances that would be difficult to identify in a shorter period of time as they come and go at various times throughout the day or night. The digital Holter is often used to find correlation between any abnormal rhythm and the patient’s symptoms, such as dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath, or chest pain.

The digital Holter Monitor records electrical signals via a series of electrodes attached to the chest.

Electrodes will be applied to your chest and connected to wires attached to an ECG machine. This small Holter ECG is carried in a small pouch worn around your neck or waist. The staff at our patient centre will attach the electrodes to your chest and explain the procedure to you.

You may be asked to keep a diary of activities (running, sleeping) you do while wearing the digital recorder. It is important that you accurately record symptoms and times they occur so that the doctor can match them with your Holter test findings.

The digital Holter Monitor continuously records and stores data for a one day period, or longer as requested by your doctor. When recording is obtained, you return the device to the same Patient Service Centre and all wires and electrodes are removed.

The Holter Monitor (also known as ambulatory electrocardiography device) is a device worn at home and at work which is used for continuous monitoring of heart rate and rhythm for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

The results of the ultrasound examination are determined by both the real time (observed during the examination) and the final static images produced. After the examination, this information is reviewed by a radiologist in order to generate a written report for your referring doctor.

You will be asked to change into a patient gown prior to your exam. Ultrasound imaging is painless easy and relatively fast. The part of your body being scanned depends on the exam requested by your physician. You will be asked to lie on an exam table and the technologist (sonographer) will spread a lubricant gel on your skin and then press a hand held transducer firmly against your skin on the areas of the requested exam. The gel helps the transducer,(the device that sends sound waves into your body) to make secure contact with your skin and eliminate any air pockets. The transducer is moved back and forth until the desired images are acquired. You will be asked to hold your breath for brief periods of time so that high quality motion free images can be obtained. You may feel some be slight discomfort from pressure as the sonographer guides the transducer over your abdomen, especially if you are required to have a full bladder. The examination takes an average of 30 minutes and you will be able to immediately resume your pre-examination activities.

Abdomen/Inguinal/Hernia Morning exams

Avoid fatty dinner. Nothing to eat or drink from midnight the night before (8 hours fasting). Small quantities of clear fluids are permitted. Any medication should be taken as required.

Abdomen Afternoon exams

For breakfast you may drink, black tea or coffee (NO MILK OR SUGAR) up to 9 am. Fasting the rest of the day

Abdomen & Pelvic - Same Visit

Avoid fatty dinner. Nothing to eat for 8 hours before the exam. Small quantities of clear fluid are permitted.
Finish drinking 4 cups or 1 L (2bottles) of water one hour prior to the exam. DO NOT EMPTY BLADDER.

Pelvic/Obstetrical

Finish drinking 4 cups or 1 L (2bottles) of water one hour prior to the exam. DO NOT EMPTY BLADDER.

Prostate-Transrectal

The evening before the examination, take Dulcolax Rectal Suppository (purchased at the drug store). Empty bowels before appointments

Finish drinking 4 cups or 1 L (2bottles) of water one hour prior to the exam. DO NOT EMPTY BLADDER.

A completed referral form (requisition) signed by your physician is required to book an appointment for ultrasound. Please bring your requisition and health insurance card with you on the day of your appointment.

Ultrasound uses non-ionizing radiation and is extremely safe. No x-rays are used and there are no known harmful effects or complications.

Ultrasound based diagnostic imaging techniques are used to visualize muscles and internal organs (including the heart, blood vessels, uterus & bladder), their size, structures and possible pathologies or lesions as well as blood flow through blood vessels. Obstetric Ultrasound is commonly used during pregnancy to assess fetal well being, determine fetal position, verify diagnosis of multiple gestational sacs (twins etc) and rule out ectopic pregnancy. Ultrasound provides information for your physician about the specific soft tissue structure being examined, or about the blood flow in vessels within the soft tissues. Soft tissue structures include a mass in or around a joint, or in a muscle or within your abdomen or pelvis.

The following parts of the body can be imaged using Ultrasound:

Abdomen: liver, gall bladder, pancreas, spleen major blood vessels.
Pelvic: reproductive organs, appendix, bladder.
Obstetrics: rregnancies 1st trimester.
Superficial structures: thyroid, breast, scrotum.
Extremities (musculoskeletal): tendons and muscles (shoulder, elbow, knee, ankle, wrist).

A radiologist specialized in the imaging and diagnosis of disease will review the x-ray images and prepare a written report that is sent to your referring physician. Your physician will consider this information in context of your overall care and discuss the results with you.

The medical radiologic technologist will escort you to a dressing room where you will be given a patient gown, if necessary, and you will be asked to remove specific articles of your clothing that may interfere with the exam to ensure that the x-ray is free of artifacts (e.g. material from your clothing, zippers, snaps, buttons, clips, jewelry metal objects etc.). You will then be taken to the x-ray room where you be asked by the technologist to stand, sit or be positioned on an x-ray table based on the type of exam your physician has requested. After the technologist has completed taking your x-rays, you may be asked to wait in the x-ray room while your images are reviewed for diagnostic quality. Additional images are occasionally required to ensure the examination completely demonstrates the area in clinical question.

For a routine x-ray examination, no preparation is required. The average x-ray study takes approx 15-20 minutes to complete.

If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant, be sure to inform your physician and the technologist prior to the start of the x-ray examination. Most examinations using x-ray will not be performed on pregnant women unless the benefits of the examination outweigh the risks of radiation exposure to the fetus.

In many cases wearing a patient gown is necessary because many items (e.g. coins, keys zippers buttons, wallets cards etc) can show up on your x-ray and obscure or cover pertinent information.

X-ray uses ionizing radiation. Qualified radiologic technologists are trained in radiation safety and protection and use techniques utilizing the minimal dose to achieve optimal results. Lead aprons and shields are used for adequate shielding. All examinations performed are well within permissible levels of diagnostic radiation dosage. If your physician has referred you for an x-ray, he/she has decided that its value outweigh any risk. On some occasions extra views of an area may be required to better demonstrate anatomy or pathology.

An x-ray image (also known as radiograph) is produced when a small amount of radiation passes through a body part and is recorded on film or computer to produce a black and white anatomical image. Areas that are more difficult for x-rays to penetrate such as bone appear white on the image and areas that x-rays penetrate more easily such as lungs or other areas filled with air appear black. Soft tissue, vessels and organs appear as various shades of grey on the x ray image depending on their composition.

X-rays are commonly used to determine the presence or absence of disease, bone or joint abnormalities, bone fractures, demonstrate pathology, detect foreign objects in the body, and demonstrate relationships between bone and tissue or to check internal organs such as heart and lungs. The most frequently performed exam is a chest x-ray.

The radiologist will generate a written report which will be sent to your referring physician.

You will be asked to lie down on an exam table for approx 15-20 minutes whilst a small x-ray detector scans the spine, hip or both. Once the exam is completed you are free to leave and resume your normal daily activities.

Calcium, Vitamin D and Multi Vitamins must be stopped 48 hours prior to appointment. No Barium or IV Contrast studies with in 10 days

A written referral signed by your physician is required prior to booking an appointment for a BMD exam. You must bring the referral form with you for appointment. Prior to booking an appointment please advise your physician if you recently had a barium examination or if you have been injected with a contrast media or radioisotope scan.

As we age our bones naturally become thinner as calcium and other minerals are lost causing the bones to become lighter, less dense, and more porous (osteopenia). This makes the bones weaker, and increases the risk of a fracture. With further bone loss, osteopenia leads to osteoporosis a disease in which bones become fragile and more likely to break. If not prevented or if left untreated, osteoporosis can progress painlessly and silently until a bone breaks. Any bone can be affected, but typically fractures occur in the hip, spine, and wrist. A hip fracture almost always requires hospitalization and major surgery and can impair a person's ability to walk unassisted and may cause prolonged or permanent disability. Spinal or vertebral fractures also have serious consequences, including loss of height, severe back pain, and deformity. Although osteoporosis can occur in men, it is most common in women older than age 65.

A BMD test is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure that measures the density of minerals (such ascalcium) in bones using a special X-ray, Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). This methodology uses two different X-ray beams to estimate bone density in your spine and hip and can measure as little as 2% of bone loss per year strength of your bones. The procedure is fast, painless and uses very low doses of radiation to measure BMD and provides valuable information for estimation of the strength of your bones.

To reduce unnecessary wait times and to enable adequate time for our staff to perform disinfection protocols between appointments, we are requesting customers to book appointments on-line. There is no requirement to have a signed physician requisition in order to book the test, Alpha will provide a requisition as part of the appointment process. Booking an appointment is quick and easy using our Alpha Labs online booking tool.

You can access your test results within 24-36 hours through our patient portal. Your test report can be printed from the portal.

Sometimes a test sample may not give a clear result. This is called an "indeterminate result". An indeterminate result means that the lab cannot tell for sure if you do or do not have COVID-19.

You will need to have a new sample collected for testing.

A positive result indicates the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA (the genetic material specific to the detection of the virus that causes COVID-19 disease).

The laboratory will report this result to Public Health who will follow up directly with you.

Should you begin to exhibit symptoms please self isolate and contact your clinical provider.

Sometimes the lab may be unable to obtain a result when they test your sample. This is called an "invalid" or "inhibitory" result which can occur for various reasons. Each invalid result is accompanied with a specific comment on the report to explain the cause.

You will need to have a new sample collected for testing.

Repeat sample collection and testing due to an invalid test result will be offered at no charge for customers who previously attended Alpha's Covid-19 Testing Centre.

Asymptomatic individuals can book an appointment for testing online at patient.alphalabs.ca or by calling (416) 449-2166 Ext. 1504 (Monday – Friday, 8am to 6pm EST).

Please do not attend Alpha Covid Testing Centre if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19 can vary from person to person and may also vary in different age groups.

Below are most commonly reported symptoms, however this is not an exhaustive list:

  • New or worsening cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Temperature equal to or over 38°C
  • Feeling feverish
  • Chills
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Muscle or body aches
  • New loss of smell or taste
  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting)
  • Feeling very unwell

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, please contact a COVID-19 assessment centre.

A COVID-19 PCR/NAAT test through Alpha Labs costs $90.00 per test.

For families with two or more individuals living in the same household and tested together, the discounted price of $80.00 per test will apply for each additional individual to a maximum of 4 persons (the first person is $90)

You can pay on-line by Interac, Visa or Mastercard using our secure, encrypted payment gateway.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many airlines or countries now ask for proof of COVID-19 clearance within a specific timeframe or window.

Alpha Labs will provide you with an official Covid-19 certificate accessible through our Alpha Labs patient portal. It is important that all travellers who are leaving the country consult their travel carrier’s guidelines to ensure they have the most current information. You should also refer to the federal government's travel website for up-to-date expectations and requirements related to your travel destination. If you require a COVID-19 test, it is important to leave ample time for testing and to receive test results.

Your portal account can be accessed from any computer, tablet or smartphone. Please note that when using a public computer, in order to protect your personal information, you should not store passwords, be aware of your surrounding and avoid people standing behind you or looking over your shoulder, do not save anything locally, delete your browsing history.

Test results are best interpreted by your Doctors or Nurse Practitioners in conjunction with other factors.

You can set up email or text-message alerts through the Settings area.

When new results or messages arrive in your Patient Portal, an alert will be sent to the notification preference you provided when you set up your account. Please remember to notify your provider's office if your email address changes.

Unfortunately, only tests performed by Alpha Laboratories will be available on Alpha Patient Portal.

Each patient will receive a verification code from the lab at each appointment. Your family member will need to provide you with that verification code. You will also need to have access to their date of birth, last name, and Healthcard (if they have one) in order to complete the consent process. Please note that the consent process is a 2-step verification where you will be asked to confirm that you have been given the code and by such have been granted consent and authorization which you can provide to Alpha Laboratories in order to view the results of your family member. The consent will remain in place until it either expires (in the event of a minor child, that will be at age 13) or the person withdraws consent. In the case of a minor child, at age 13, the consent will need to be re-verified.

Unfortunately, you can only see the results from the time you signed up.

You should book the initial appoinment and bring your requisition to your appointment at the lab.

Most lab results are available within 48 hours, but some culture tests can take up to 1 week. The results are made available on the portal as soon as they become available.

Some tests, like cytology, histology, ECGs, etc., are best understood and explained by your Doctors or Nurse Practitioners, and should not be interpreted alone by the patient. As such, these results are sent directly to the healthcare providers and are not available on the patient portal.

Yes, you can download a PDF copy of your results by opening the result that you wish to download, scrolling to the bottom of the results page and clicking on Download PDF.

Appoinment reminders are sent immediately after booking, 3 days before your scheduled appointment as well as the night before. If you book an appointment that is less than 3 days from the time of booking, you will receive a reminder the night before. If you add your appointment to your calendar upon receiving the initial confirmation, you can set your own reminders.

No, you can simply go to Settings, add a family member to your account, and book appointments for them. Please refer to the patient user guide.

You can cancel (and/or rebook) your appointments at any time by logging into your portal account. Please refer to the patient user guide.

You can easily book an appointment by using Quick Tests™ in a few simple clicks. Please refer to the patient user guide.

To ensure the privacy of your medical results, your account will log out after 20 minutes of inactivity.

You can change your security question and/or answer yourself under the Settings menu in your portal account. Please refer to the patient user guide.

Please contact the Alpha Patient Support team at patient@alphalabs.ca for assistance.

You can sign up for the Alpha Patient Portal by:

  • Following the instructions provided on this page
  • Using our one-page sign up document
  • Asking for assistance at the Patient Service Centre

If you wish to deactivate your account, you can send us a request at patient@alphalabs.ca

All patients 18 years of age and older can sign up for an account. Patients who are younger than 18 can authorize their family members to view their results on their behalf. This will involve adding them as a family member to your account and completing a consent as a part of the registration process