What we test

Full blood count with differential

The full blood count is used as a broad screening test to check for such disorders as anaemia (decrease in red blood cells or haemoglobin), infection, and many other diseases. It is actually a group of tests that examine different parts of the blood. Results from the following tests provide the broadest picture of your health.

The full blood count measures

Responsible for blood clotting and healing. A high count can indicate a risk of thrombosis, whilst a low count can lead to easy bruising.

Responsible for carrying oxygen around the body. A high count can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, whilst a low count can mean your body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs.

A good measure of your blood's ability to carry oxygen throughout your body. Elevated haemoglobin can be an indicator of lung disease, whilst a low result indicates anaemia.

A measure of the percentage of red blood cells in the total blood volume. Elevated haematocrit can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is a measure of the average size of the RBCs. The MCV is elevated when RBCs are larger than normal, eg in anaemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. When MCV is decreased, RBCs are smaller than normal as seen in iron deficiency anaemia.

Mean corpuscular haemoglobin (MCH) is a calculation of the average amount of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin inside a red blood cell. Large RBCs are large tend to have a higher MCH, while small red cells would have a lower value.

Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration (MCHC) is a calculation of the average concentration of haemoglobin inside a red cell. Decreased MCHC is seen in iron deficiency anaemia and thalassaemia.

Responsible for fighting infection. A high count can indicate recent infection and even stress, whilst a low count can result from vitamin deficiencies, liver disease and immune diseases.

Basophils are a type of white blood cell. Basophils can increase in cases of leukaemia, long-standing inflammation and hypersensitivity to food.

A type of white blood cell. Can increase in response to allergic disorders, inflammation of the skin and parasitic infections. They can also occur in response to some infections or to various bone marrow malignancies.

A type of white blood cell. Can increase in response to infection as well as inflammatory disorders, and occasionally with some types of leukaemias. Decreased monocyte levels can indicate bone marrow injury or failure and some forms of leukaemia.

A type of white blood cell. Can increase with bacterial or viral infection, leukaemia, lymphoma, radiation therapy or acute illness. Decreased lymphocyte levels are common in later life but can also indicate steroid medication, stress, lupus and HIV infection.

A type of white blood cell. Can increase in response to bacterial infection, inflammatory disease, steroid medication, or more rarely leukaemia. Decreased neutrophil levels may be the result of severe infection or other conditions.

Red cell distribution width (RDW) is a calculation of the variation in the size of your RBCs. In some anaemias, such as pernicious anaemia (due to vitamin B12 deficiency), the amount of variation in RBC size causes an increase in the RDW.

Cholesterol

Lipids and cholesterol are fat-like substances in your blood. Some are necessary for good health, but when you have a high level of cholesterol in your blood, a lot of it ends up being deposited in the walls of your arteries and other vital organs. Lifestyle choices including diet, exercise and alcohol intake can all influence cholesterol levels and your risk of developing heart disease.

This cholesterol test measures:

High total cholesterol is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol is often called ‘bad cholesterol’ because it contributes to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible.

HDL (high density lipoprotein) cholesterol is often called ‘good cholesterol’ and is protective against atherosclerosis.

The main storage form of fatty acids in the body. Elevated triglyceride levels may contribute to hardening of the arteries, and increase the risk of heart disease or stroke.

Non-HDL cholesterol is considered an effective lipid measurement for assessing cardiovascular disease risk as it is believed to reflect levels of 'bad' cholesterol. Other risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, age, gender, ethnicity and family history.

Kidney Function

A blood test is used to find out the level of waste products in your blood and calculate what’s called your estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).

This kidney function test measures:

Helps regulate the water and electrolyte balance of your body, and is important in the function of your nerves and muscles. Too much sodium can indicate kidney disease.

Minor changes in serum potassium ca have significant consequences. An abnormal concentration can alter the function of the nerves and muscles for example, the heart muscle may lose its ability to contract.

Chloride, like sodium, helps to maintain the balance of fluid in the body. Raised levels can be caused by eating too much salt, dehydration, diarrhoea, certain medications and also kidney disease.

Higher than normal levels suggests trouble maintaining pH balance either by failing to remove carbon dioxide or because of an electrolyte imbalance. Elevations may be seen with severe vomiting, chronic lung problems and some hormonal disorders. Low levels may be seen with chronic diarrhoea, diabetic ketoacidosis and kidney failure.

A high concentration of this waste product can indicate dehydration or that your kidneys aren’t working properly.

A waste molecule generated from muscle metabolism, and an accurate marker of kidney function.

If too much urate is produced or not enough is excreted, it can accumulate and lead to gout – an inflammation that occurs in joints.

The estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) measures how well your kidneys filter the wastes from your blood and is the best overall measure of kidney function.

Liver Function

Your liver processes drugs and alcohol, filters toxic chemicals, stores vitamins and minerals, and makes bile, proteins and enzymes. This liver function test examines enzymes and other markers for evidence of damage to your liver cells or a blockage near your liver which can impair its function.

This liver function test measures:

Removed from the body by the liver, and elevated levels may indicate liver disease.

Conjugated, or direct, bilirubin travels freely through your bloodstream to your liver. Most of this bilirubin passes into the small intestine. A very small amount passes into your kidneys and is excreted in your urine. This bilirubin also gives urine its distinctive yellow color.

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme located mainly in the liver and the bones. High levels can indicate liver disease.

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) is an enzyme created mainly by the liver and the heart. High levels can indicate damage to your liver caused by alcohol, drugs or hepatitis.

Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is an enzyme mainly produced by the liver. A good indicator of liver damage caused by alcohol, drugs or hepatitis.

Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) is a liver enzyme which can be used to diagnose alcohol abuse as it is typically raised in long term drinkers.

Albumin is a protein which keeps fluid from leaking out of blood vessels, nourishes tissues, and carries hormones, vitamins, drugs, and ions like calcium throughout the body. Albumin is made in the liver and is sensitive to liver damage.

Any of a group of simple proteins found in the blood.

A measure of all of the proteins in the plasma portion of your blood. Proteins are important building blocks of all cells and tissues - they are important for body growth and health.

Metabolic

Blood glucose is generated from carbohydrates and to use this fuel for energy your body needs insulin. With type 2 diabetes the cells either ignore the insulin or the body doesn't produce enough of it. Glucose then builds up leading to problems with the heart, kidneys, eyes, nerves, and blood vessels.

This blood test measures:

If you have diabetes your body doesn't process glucose effectively.

LDH is an enzyme required during the process of turning sugar into energy for your cells. Only a small amount is usually detectable in the blood, however, when cells are damaged they release LDH into the bloodstream.

Iron Studies

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional problem in Australia. It slows your body’s production of haemoglobin, which your red blood cells need to pick up oxygen from your lungs and carry it to every cell in your body. If you have a shortage of iron you experience symptoms of anaemia, which include feeling breathless after little exercise, feeling tired, heart palpitations and looking pale.

This blood test measures:

An essential trace element is necessary for forming healthy red blood cells and for some enzymes.

A protein that binds iron and transports it around the body (also known as TIBC). High levels indicate iron deficiency.

Low levels typically indicate iron deficiency, and high levels can indicate iron overload.

The ferritin concentration within the blood stream reflects the amount of iron stored in your body and is reduced in anaemia.

Bone Health

Calcium plays a critical role in developing and maintaining your overall bone health. When you don’t get enough calcium, you increase your risk of developing osteoporosis and the incidence of stress fractures. This blood test measures both your calcium and corrected calcium levels. The majority of calcium in the body is stored in bone, the rest is found in the blood. If the calcium result is abnormal, a corrected calcium calculation provides further information.

This blood test measures:

plays a critical role in developing and maintaining your overall bone health.

Plays a critical role in developing and maintaining your overall bone health. If the total calcium result is abnormal, a corrected calcium calculation provides further information.

Most phosphate in the body comes from foods such as beans, peas and nuts, cereals, dairy products, eggs, beef, chicken and fish contain small amounts of phosphate. Phosphates are vital for energy production, muscle and nerve function, and bone growth.

Test instructions

Print out the pathology form that we email you.

Fast from all food and drink other than water for at least 8 hours, and no more than 12 hours prior to your test.

Take your form to your local collection centre to have your sample taken - no need for an appointment.

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