blood test

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

blood test

blood test, examination of blood routinely or as an aid in diagnosing a suspected disease. Tests may be performed on whole blood or on the plasma portion only. Blood typing identifies the proteins at specific sites on red blood cells, a necessity in determining compatibility for blood transfusion. Human Lymphocyte Antigens (HLA) is a form of white blood cell typing prerequisite for organ and bone marrow transplants. The Coulter Cell Counter is widely used in electronic counts of red blood cells for the diagnosis of anemia and polycythemia. White cell counts are vital in detecting infections or in confirming leukemia. Serum or plasma may be collected, cultured, and inoculated with bacteria or other substances for the purpose of detecting the body's reaction to infections, cancer, or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Plasma may also be examined for evidence of functional disorders, e.g., for blood sugar in testing for diabetes mellitus. Blood tests for tumor markers, such as prostate-specific antigen, are effective in detecting cancer in high risk groups. Almost all blood tests are now performed by electronic equipment, and results are evaluated and printed out by computer.

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