CLINICAL DIAGNOSTICS DEPARTMENT 

The Clinical Diagnostics Department is a multidisciplinary department comprising haematology, biochemistry, immunology, and microbiology. Comprehensive quality assurance programs are in place to ensure the accuracy of all results.

Haematology

Blood Film - red and white cells

Haematology looks at the cellular content, coagulation and some immunological aspects of blood.

Test routinely performed in haematology include:

  • Full blood counts
  • Microscopic examination of blood films, to diagnose anaemias, leukaemias, inherited disorders and review morphology (appearance) of the blood cells.
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rates
  • INR and coagulation testing
  • Infectious mononucleosis (glandular fever) testing
  • Blood group and antibody testing
  • Blood transfusion compatibility testing

 

Blood samples are analysed on sophisticated computer driven analysers to obtain the primary blood cell count. Blood films are then examined by experienced scientists and pathologists.

Coagulation measures the rate at which your blood starts to clot. Patients taking warfarin and heparin are routinely monitored to ensure the correct dosing of medication, and those with suspected inherited or acquired clotting disorders are also investigated and monitored.

Immuno-haematology (or blood bank serology) determines blood groups and blood group antibodies, and cross matching of blood for infusion. Stocks of blood for transfusion are held in monitored refrigerators before being issued, after compatibility testing, to the hospitals in the ACT.

 

Biochemistry / Immunology

Clinical Chemistry Analyser

Biochemistry / Immunology performs the routine testing of body fluids. Samples, including whole blood, serum (liquid portion of blood), urine, CSF and synovial fluid are analysed for a variety of biochemical parameters in order to assess the patient's health status.

A variety of modern instruments are used to assess or test for:

  • Electrolyte balance, renal function, liver function and other parameters
  • Diabetic status
  • Lipid status
  • Cardiac function
  • Hormone status
  • Fertility or gland function
  • Pregnancy tests
  • Hepatitis screen
  • Therapeutic drugs
  • Immunological status
  • Tumour markers
  • Viral screening (including immunity testing)
  • Vitamin levels

 

Microbiology 


Diplococci

Microbiology is the science of identifying disease causing pathogens (including bacteria, fungi, viruses and protozoa) from specimens. As not all micro-organisms cause disease, and many are needed for proper body function, the microbiologist must be able to distinguish the different types of microorganisms and their potential to cause disease.

Microbiological analysis is used in the diagnosis of the following conditions:

  • Urinary tract and kidney infections
  • Diarrhoea and gastrointestinal tract infections
  • Parasitic infestations
  • Sepsis
  • Fungal infections of nails, skin and hair
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Respiratory tract and throat infections
  • Wound infections
  • Food poisoning


Once a disease causing bacteria is isolated and identified, testing is performed to see which antibiotics are suitable to treat the infection.

Because microbiology depends on the growth of the organisms, it usually takes 2-3 days to confirm the presence of a pathogenic organism. However some may take longer. Cultures for microorganisms such as tuberculosis are kept for up to 6 weeks before the final results are issued.

 

HISTOPATHOLOGY

 
Histopathology Slide

Histopathology is a highly specialised area in pathology. Every specimen received is personally examined and reported by a specialist pathologist.

Histology samples can vary from tiny biopsies to entire organs that have been surgically removed. The tissue samples are preserved in formalin and sent to the laboratory. For larger samples, sections of these tissues are selected for tissue processing and embedded in paraffin. For smaller samples, the entire sample is embedded in paraffin. These paraffin blocks are cut into microscopically thin sections by the scientist using a microtome, and placed onto glass slides.

To enable viewing of the individual cells in the sample under a microscope, the sample is stained using a routine stain (haematoxylin and eosin). Some samples are stained using additional special stains and antibody markers, before being reviewed by our specialist pathologists.

Histopathologists also provide frozen section analysis in operating theatres in hospitals. This procedure allows the pathologist to conduct a prompt examination of small selected pieces of tissue while the patient is still in the operating room. The diagnosis of this tissue will predetermine the extent or continuance of the operation.

 

CYTOLOGY

 Cyto normal
Cytology - cells on a pap smear

Cytology is a specialised department whose primary role is to detect cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions on Pap smears and cancerous lesions in non-gynaecological specimens including fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies, urine samples, sputum samples, CSF and other body fluids.

All scientific and technical staff are highly trained with strict quality control procedures rigorously implemented to ensure high standards of reporting. This may involve a slide being examined under the microscope by several cytologists and pathologists before a final diagnosis is made.