Clinical chemistry

From WikiMD's Food, Medicine & Wellness Encyclopedia

Clinical chemistry (also known as chemical pathology, clinical biochemistry or medical biochemistry) is the area of chemistry that is generally concerned with analysis of bodily fluids for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. It is an applied form of biochemistry (not to be confused with medicinal chemistry, which involves basic research for drug development).

Overview[edit | edit source]

The discipline originated in the late 19th century with the use of simple chemical reaction tests for various components of blood and urine. In the many decades since, other techniques have been applied as science and technology have advanced, including the use and measurement of enzyme activities, spectrophotometry, electrophoresis, and immunoassay. There are now many blood tests and clinical urine tests with extensive diagnostic capabilities.

Most current laboratories are now highly automated to accommodate the high workload typical of a hospital laboratory. Tests performed are closely monitored and quality controlled.

All biochemical tests come under chemical pathology. These are performed on any kind of body fluid, but mostly on serum or plasma. Serum is the yellow watery part of blood that is left after blood has been allowed to clot and all blood cells have been removed. This is most commonly done by centrifugation, which packs the denser blood cells and platelets to the bottom of the centrifuge tube, leaving the liquid serum fraction resting above the packed cells. This serum includes the soluble proteins not involved in the clotting process.

Tests[edit | edit source]

Biochemical tests are numerous and each one provides specific information about the patient's health. Examples of such tests include:

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD