Terms of the Medical Laboratory
Chemistry is filled with fascinating, state-of-the art technology which helps laboratory professionals to quickly analyze the chemical composition of blood and body fluids. Some of the tests performed in the chemistry section include glucose testing (aids in the diagnosis of diabetes), cholesterol, and drug testing.
Cytology is the study of human cells. This is where cell samples are examined to detect early signs of cancer and other diseases. One of the principle functions is the detection of cancer of the cervix (the familiar "PAP" smear).
Hematology counts, describes and identifies cells in blood and other body fluids. The slightest change in shape or size or number of cells will tell these skilled laboratory professionals if you are anemic or have leukemia.
Histology evaluates cells in tissues and organs. The histotechnologist also helps the pathologiest with such complex tasks as fine needle biopsies, (a special procedure that collects tissue from lesions) and autopsies (to determine the cause of death).
Immunology is the study of the body's response to viruses or allergy causing agents. This area is responsible for many tests of the efficiency of the human immune system.
Microbiology tracks down and identifies disease-causing bacteria, parasites or viruses. These laboratory professional will use growth characteristics in artificial media, chemical testing and slide identification to determine which medications will work against the infections.
Phlebotomy is the collection and processing of blood and other specimens. After processing, the samples are distributed to different areas of the laboratory for analysis.
Transfusion Medicine supplies all the blood products that are necessary for the treatment of many types of blood disorders including anemias and blood clotting disorders. Each blood unit is individually typed for blood group, screened for antibodies and tested for contagious diseases.
Virology is where tests for viral and Chlamydial disease are performed. Tests are designed to detect the virus (antigen detection) or the body's defense to a virus (antibody detection). Some of the the frequent tests are for Herpes Simplex Virus, hepatitis B antibody test, Measles (Rubeola) immunity status and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) antibody screening (the "AIDS" test).