Medical Laboratory Testing

Laboratories are a vital part of the world of medicine since modern medical laboratories do important diagnostic work for specialists in every medical field. While many medical laboratories do a variety of tests, some laboratories specialize in particular types of testing.

Types of Tests


Hematology concerns the study of blood. The most common hematology or blood test is the complete blood count or CBC. A CBC measures the amount of hemoglobin in the blood as well as the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and the hematocrit, or percentage of the blood made up of red blood cells. Medical laboratories do many other blood tests, including platelet counts. Blood testing is an important tool in evaluating organ function, diagnosing illnesses, checking the efficiency of clotting, checking medication levels, discerning blood types and Rh factors, and checking for toxins in the blood.

Blood Chemistry

Blood chemistry is a test for the amount of certain substances in the blood.  Examples of these include electrolytes, proteins, glucose, kidney function, metabolic panel, liver function, and cardiac enzymes.


Laboratories also test for toxins in the blood or urine, primarily for prescription or recreational drugs.


Urinalysis tests for levels of various substances in the urine, including blood, glucose, bilirubin and protein. Urinalysis is very useful in diagnosing many diseases and conditions.


Virology testing is concerned with detecting and identifying viruses in specimens of blood, cerebrospinal fluid or urine.

Common Laboratory Tests

Laboratory tests are commonly performed as part of routine physical examinations. Perhaps the most common laboratory blood test is a complete blood count or CBC. Some of the other common laboratory tests which may show metabolic irregularities, organ or gland function, incipient or progressing disease processes, traumatic conditions or levels of prescribed medications may include tests for:

  • Sugar in the blood
  • Levels of electrolytes such as sodium and potassium
  • Liver function test
  • Waste products in the blood
  • Viral illness such as the Flu
  • Strep trest

Common Pediatric Blood Tests

Children have some special laboratory needs. They are more prone to certain kinds of infections than adults and, since they have a tendency to eat inappropriate material, are more susceptible to certain types of poisoning. Some common pediatric laboratory tests for children and infants may include:

  • Complete blood count, or CBC
  • Tests of electrolyte level
  • Liver function tests to check for organ damage
  • Mononucleosis test
  • Strep Throat
  • Flu Test

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