Clinical pathology is a medical specialty that is concerned with the diagnosis of disease based on the laboratory analysis of bodily fluids such as blood and urine, as well as tissues, using the tools of chemistry, clinical microbiology, hematology and molecular pathology. Clinical pathologists work in close collaboration with medical technologists, hospital administrations, and referring physicians. Clinical pathologists learn to administer a number of visual and microscopic tests and an especially large variety of tests of the biophysical properties of tissue samples involving automated analysers and cultures. Sometimes the general term “laboratory medicine specialist” is used to refer to those working in clinical pathology, including medical doctors, Ph.D.s and doctors of pharmacology. Immunopathology, the study of an organism’s immune response to infection, is sometimes considered to fall within the domain of clinical pathology.
The Clinical Microbiology Laboratory offers diagnostic testing and consultative services for infectious diseases caused by bacteria, mycobacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites. In addition, it performs antimicrobial and antifungal susceptibility testing when indicated to help guide anti-infective therapy. Its leaders, specially trained and board certified in Clinical Microbiology and Internal Medicine (Infectious Diseases), provide expert laboratory consultations.
Providing full laboratory services in the above areas on a 24/7 basis, this laboratory’s outstanding technologist staff also displays great depth in detecting antimicrobial resistance; diagnosing Legionnaires’ disease and other respiratory tract infections as well as gastrointestinal tract infections; and detecting and identifying mycobacteria and fungi. Its staff work closely with faculty and staff in the Molecular Pathology Laboratory to develop new molecular-based approaches for diagnosing infectious disease. Clinical consultation is available at all times.
Toxicology is a scientific discipline, overlapping with biology, chemistry, pharmacology, and medicine, that involves the study of the adverse effects of chemical substances on living organisms and the practice of diagnosing and treating exposures to toxins and toxicants.
Drug testing uses a biological sample to detect the presence or absence of a specific drug (or drugs) as well as drug metabolites within a specific window of time. No universal standard exists today in clinical drug testing for addiction identification, diagnosis, treatment, medication monitoring, or recovery. A toxicology test can’t show if a patient has an addiction problem. It also can’t pinpoint how much of a drug they used or when. It’s only able to tell if certain drugs are (or have recently been) in a patient’s body.
LC / MS Mass Spectrometers
Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) is a hybrid of two analysis techniques that are used to separate, detect, quantify, and identify components of a mixed sample. Used in microbiology, molecular biology, proteomics, and drug testing, liquid chromatography mass spectrometers can be used for microorganism detection, protein sequencing, analysis, and research. The LC part separates the sample into its components, which are ionized and sent through the mass spectrometer for identification. When determining which liquid chromatography mass spectrometer best meets your needs, there are several features to consider. Resolution, accuracy, mass range it can detect, how fast the scan is, and how easy the spectrometer is to use will differ among models.
Blood chemistry tests are blood tests that measure amounts of certain chemicals in a sample of blood. They show how well certain organs are working and can help find abnormalities. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that makes it. Blood chemistry tests may also be called chemistry panels.
There are many types of blood chemistry tests. They measure chemicals including enzymes, electrolytes, fats (also called lipids), hormones, sugars, proteins, vitamins and minerals. Often several chemicals are grouped together and measured at the same time.
Blood chemistry tests are common blood tests. They are often done as part of a routine checkup, but can be done at any time.
Blood Chemistry Tests Can Be Used To:
- learn information about your general health
- check how certain organs are working, such as the kidneys, liver and thyroid
- check the body’s electrolyte balance
- help diagnose diseases and conditions
- provide the levels of chemicals (a baseline) to compare with future blood
- check how a treatment is affecting certain organs
- monitor cancer or another condition (as a part of follow-up)
Hematology is the branch of medicine concerned with the study of the cause, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases related to blood. It involves treating diseases that affect the production of blood and its components, such as blood cells, hemoglobin, blood proteins, bone marrow, platelets, blood vessels, spleen, and the mechanism of coagulation. Such diseases might include hemophilia, blood clots (thrombus), other bleeding disorders, and blood cancers such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, and lymphoma. The laboratory work that goes into the study of blood is frequently performed by a medical technologist or medical laboratory scientist.
Problems with the blood can affect several of the body’s systems, such as the lymphatic system, a network of tissues and organs that clear waste. Blood disorders sometimes stem from problems with the bone marrow, where the body makes most of its blood cells. Hematology aims to understand how these problems occur, how they affect a person’s health, and how to treat them.
Tests and procedures that a hematologist may perform include:
- Complete blood cell count: This test can help diagnose anemia, inflammatory
diseases, and blood cancer. It can also help with monitoring blood loss
- Platelet count: This test helps diagnose and monitor bleeding disorders.
- Blood enzyme tests: There are many types of these tests, which a doctor uses to help diagnose cardiovascular conditions, including heart attack.
- Bone marrow biopsy: This procedure can help diagnose and monitor anemia,
thrombocytopenia, which involves having a low platelet count, and some cancers.
- Blood transfusions: This involves the body receiving healthy blood intravenously —
through an IV.
It is common for hematologists to also train in oncology, which is the study, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. The combined training allows these doctors to treat a range of blood-related illnesses, including some cancers.
A person with blood cancer, such as leukemia or myeloma, may see an oncologist and hematologist separately, or they may see a doctor with training in both fields. Not everyone who receives a referral to an oncologist has cancer. Many oncologists train in hematology and see people with blood conditions that are not cancerous.
Disorders Related to Hematology
Various disorders and diseases primarily affect the blood and may be studied and treated by a hematologist. Some examples include:
- Anemia: This involves the body producing too few healthy red blood cells to carry enough oxygen around the body.
- Sickle cell disease: This form of anemia changes the shape of red blood cells.
- Thalassemia: This involves the body not making enough hemoglobin.
- Bleeding disorders: These prevent the body from forming blood clots correctly.
- Thrombocytopenia: This involves a low platelet count, which can result in difficulty forming blood clots.
- Malaria: This infection can destroy red blood cells.
- Von Willebrand’s disease: This bleeding disorder occurs in people who do not have a blood protein called von Willebrand factor.
- Thrombosis: This refers to a clot in a blood vessel.
- Hypercoagulability: This describes the blood’s increased tendency to clot.
- Blood cancers: These can affect the function of a person’s blood cells.