Why Pathology Tests Are Important?
The results of pathology laboratory tests can be used by doctors, nurses and other healthcare practitioners to diagnose and manage health conditions. They can be used in the management of chronic diseases, infectious diseases and even cancer.
It is a good idea to have an open discussion about any tests your doctor orders so you know what to expect. Some conversation points to consider include
- Why the doctor has chosen specific tests for you
- What you should do before, during or after the pathology test
- What the outcomes or results could indicate for you in terms of treatment
- Whether abnormal results are relevant
- If you would need any follow up tests afterwards
Specialisations In Pathology Tests
There are nine different levels of specialty within pathology laboratory tests:
- General pathology: which is concerned all aspects of laboratory investigation of disease
- Haematology: for the study of blood disorders
- Chemical pathology: to analyse the chemicals in blood and other bodily fluids
- Genetic pathology: to study genetic disease
- Medical microbiology: for investigations into conditions that have been caused by viruses, parasites, bacteria and fungi
- Anatomical microbiology: to study disease in human tissue
- Immunopathology: which investigates immune response to a disease
- Forensic pathology: to determine the cause of death
- Clinical pathology: which investigates disease through laboratory testing.
Why Would You Need A Pathology Test?
In addition to detecting and treating disease, pathology laboratory tests can be used to
- Monitor the progression of a disease
- Prevent disease
- Determine an individual’s risk of future disease
- Assist in the development of new treatments or to make treatments safer
If your general practitioner sends you for a pathology test, it is likely to be because there is a concern about your health or because you are at an age where you may be more susceptible to certain diseases or illnesses.
Pathology tests may help with
- Screening patients before they may be aware that they have a disease, or if there is a genetic predisposition to a particular condition.
- Investigating health risks such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or heart disease. Prior to this, your doctor may do an analysis of your risk profile.
- Illness diagnosis may be required if you are exhibiting symptoms and your doctor wants confirmation.
- Providing prognosis in cases where patients have a disease.
- A pathology test may also be ordered when your doctor is preparing you for treatment, or to see how your body is responding to a certain treatment.
Common Blood Pathology Tests
Some of the most commonly requested blood pathology tests include
A full blood count
A full blood count can diagnose a wide range of diseases and illnesses.
Iron studies are conducted to assess red blood cell function and the level of iron present in the blood.
Liver function test
A liver function tests measures the enzymes and excretions produced by the liver.
Thyroid stimulating hormone quantification
The TSH test is done to measure how your thyroid is functioning
Urinalysis diagnoses a wide range of diseases, including those affecting the kidneys and liver. It is also done regularly for pregnant women and to diagnose UTIs.
INR (International normalised ratio)
An INR is conducted to assess how your blood clots
What To Expect If You Are Having A Blood Test?
You will be asked to lie down or sit while your sample is collected.
A tourniquet will be tied around your arm to increase blood volume before the area to be injected is sterilised.
A needle will be inserted into your vein to draw the blood sample.
You will be given some cotton gauze to hold against the injection site to curb the bleeding.
What To Expect If You Are Giving A Urine Or Stool Sample?
Urine samples may be collected at home or at your doctor’s rooms. If your doctor asks for midstream urine, they would like you to collect the urine that comes out in the middle of the flow.
Stool samples are usually collected in your own home. It’s a good idea to urinate first. Make sure you do not collect toilet bowl water with your sample, and that the sample does not come into contact with the toilet bowl.
Reading And Interpreting Your Pathology Test
Your doctor is the best person to interpret the results of your pathology tests. Remember that, even if the laboratory has marked the results as abnormal, this doesn’t necessarily indicate the presence of a problem. Often healthcare practitioners will request that lab test results are sent directly to them so as not to alarm patients.
For more information on pathology laboratory tests please contact us for an appointment: (02) 9884 9300.
Understanding Pathology Tests
Blood and Pathology Tests