Kingston upon Thames
Clinical Biochemistry is the area of clinical pathology that is generally concerned with analysis of bodily fluids. The majority of investigations undertaken are carried out on serum or plasma. Serum is the yellow watery part of blood that is left after blood has been allowed to clot and all blood cells have been removed. This is most easily done by centrifugation, which packs the denser blood cells and platelets to the bottom of the centrifuge tube, leaving the liquid serum fraction resting above the packed cells. This initial step before analysis has recently been included in instruments that operate on the “integrated system” principle. Plasma is in essence the same as serum, but is obtained by centrifuging the blood without clotting. Plasma is obtained by centrifugation before clotting occurs. The type of test required dictates what type of sample is used.
Although the department undertakes a large variety of tests, these can be categorised into sub-specialities:
General or routine chemistry – commonly ordered blood chemistries (e.g. Liver and kidney function tests).
Special chemistry: elaborate techniques such as electrophoresis, and manual testing methods.
Clinical endocrinology: the study of hormones and diagnosis of endocrine disorders.
Toxicology – the study of drugs of abuse and other chemicals.
Therapeutic Drug Monitoring – measurement of therapeutic medications blood levels to optimize dosage.
Urinalysis – chemical analysis of urine for a wide array of diseases, along with other fluids such as CSF and effusions.
Faecal analysis is mostly for detection of gastrointestinal disorders.
The Immunology laboratory undertakes tests to identify:
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