Follow a sample: a short laboratory tour
Getting to grips with how pathology tests work can help you better understand how and why all the important decisions affecting your health are being made. This section shows what happens step-by-step from sample collection to results and report.
You can follow two samples - a blood sample and a throat culture - to get a glimpse at what you don't normally get to see: what happens to your sample, and how carefully it is tracked, once it leaves your sight. Also:
Last Review Date: April 3, 2013
- Come behind the scenes in the haematology and biochemistry labs to see what happens to your blood test. This is where some of the most common tests are performed. Full Blood Count (FBC), Electrolytes and Liver Function (E/LFT), HDL and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides (lipid profile)
- Visit microbiology to see how a bacterial culture is grown in the perfect environment; how a diagnosis is made and the relevant antibiotic identified. Throat infection
- There’s nothing routine about the Pap smear. This is a highly-complex business that can involve identifying just a few abnormal cells in a smear of 300,000 cells. Pap smear
- Diagnosing breast cancer requires the painstaking examination of tissue and fluid under the microscope. Pathology is needed before during and after surgery. If cancer is found the lymph nodes must be investigated for possible spread. Breast cancer and Anatomical Pathology
- Pathology examinations are needed in the hospital theatre to help guide the surgeon. The pathologist and scientist must work against the clock while the patient is on the operating table. Frozen Sections
- DNA cannot be seen by the human eye, not even under the microscope, but in little more than a decade PCR, a new technique that ‘amplifies’ strands of genetic material so they can be examined, has revolutionised the way we can diagnose mutations in cancer and track down inherited disorders.