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Counties Manukau Health Laboratory Services

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Blood Tests (Haematology)

Blood contains many different chemicals and particles which may be tested. Sometimes the cells are tested, other times the liquid part of the blood (plasma) will be tested.
 
Full Blood Count
This is a common test which examines the three main types of cells in the blood: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Examination of red blood cells can tell the doctor if you are anaemic (your blood is unable to carry enough oxygen) or not. Examination of white blood cells will indicate the presence or absence of infection and how good your body is at fighting infection.
Platelet numbers may tell a doctor if you have a problem with your blood clotting process.
You may eat and drink normally before having this test.
 
Blood Clotting
The ability of the blood to clot normally can be measured by: looking at the platelets (special cells in the blood), measuring the INR (International Normalised Ratio), or a coagulation screen (a series of tests including a platelet count and bleeding times).
Patients on warfarin (an anti-clotting medication) will need to have regular INR tests.
You may eat and drink normally before having these tests.
 
ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate)
This test looks at the red blood cells and can indicate the presence of an inflammatory disease (when a part of your body is swollen and sore) or abnormal protein conditions such as a serious infection or connective tissue disorder.
You may eat and drink normally before having this test.
 
Iron
Tests such as FeIBC (serum iron) and Ferritin measure the levels of iron in your blood and total body. Low iron levels may cause anaemia (low levels of oxygen in the blood), while high levels of iron may indicate liver disease, inflammation or certain cancers.
You may have to fast (not eat or drink) before some of these tests; check with your doctor or the laboratory first.
 
Vitamin B12 and Folate
Vitamin B12 and folate (folic acid) are the vitamins most often measured in blood tests. It is important for pregnant women to have stores of folic acid for the foetus to develop normally.
Low levels of these vitamins may indicate the presence of some types of anaemia, especially in the elderly. Low levels may also be caused by a vegetarian diet, certain medications or some diseases of the digestive tract (food pipe/stomach/intestines).
You may eat and drink normally before having these tests.

This page was last updated at 11:35AM on August 25, 2016.