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Blood test

A blood test is a laboratory analysis performed on a blood sample that is usually extracted from an arm vein using a syringe, or via fingerprick.



Blood tests are used to determine physiological and biochemical states such as disease, mineral content, drug effectiveness, and organ function.

Venipuncture is useful as it is a relatively non-invasive way to obtain cells, and extracellular fluid (plasma), from the body for analysis. Since blood flows throughout the body, acting as a medium for providing oxygen and nutrients, and drawing waste products back to the excretory systems for disposal, the state of the bloodstream affects, or is affected by, many medical conditions. For these reasons, blood tests are the most commonly performed medical tests.

Although the term blood test is used, most routine tests (except for most haematology) are done on plasma or serum.[citation needed]


Phlebotomists, laboratory technicians and nurses are those charged with patient blood extraction. However, in special circumstances, and emergency situations, paramedics and physicians sometimes extract blood. Also, respiratory therapists are trained to extract arterial blood[1][2] for arterial blood gasses, though this is a rare occurrence.

Types of blood tests

Biochemical analysis

A basic metabolic panel measures sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), magnesium, creatinine, and glucose. It also sometimes includes calcium.

Some blood tests, such as measuring glucose, cholesterol, or for STD screening require fasting (or no food consumption) eight to twelve hours prior to the blood test.

For the majority of blood tests, blood is usually obtained from the patient's vein. However, other specialized blood tests, such as the Arterial blood gas, require blood extracted from an artery. Blood gas analysis of arterial blood is primarily used to monitor carbon dioxide levels related to pulmonary function. It is also required, however, when measuring blood pH and bicarbonate levels for certain metabolic conditions.

While the regular glucose test is taken at a certain point in time, the glucose tolerance test involves repeated testing to determine the rate at which glucose is processed by the body.

Normal ranges

Sodium (Na) 136 145 mmol/L
Potassium (K) 3.5 4.5 mmol/L
Urea 2.5 6.4 mmol/L BUN - blood urea nitrogen
Urea 7 18 mg/dL
Creatinine - male 62 115 μmol/L
Creatinine - female 53 97 μmol/L
Creatinine - male 0.7 1.3 mg/dL
Creatinine - female 0.6 1.1 mg/dL
Glucose (fasting) 3.9 5.8 mmol/L See also glycosylated hemoglobin
Glucose (fasting) 70 105 mg/dL

Molecular profiles


Antibody Proteins


  • Polymerase chain reaction (DNA). DNA testing is today possible with even very small quantities of blood: this is commonly used in forensic science, but is now also part of the diagnostic process of many disorders.
  • Northern blot (RNA)

Cellular evaluation

  • Full blood count (or "complete blood count")
  • Hematocrit and MCV ("mean corpuscular volume")
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
  • Cross-matching. Determination of blood type for blood transfusion or transplants
  • Blood cultures are commonly taken if infection is suspected. Positive cultures and resulting sensitivity results are often useful in guiding medical treatment.


  1. ^ Aaron SD, Vandemheen KL, Naftel SA, Lewis MJ, Rodger MA (2003). "Topical tetracaine prior to arterial puncture: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial". Respir Med. 97 (11): 1195-1199. PMID 14635973.
  2. ^,1607,7-170-46398-64537--,00.html
  3. ^ C. A. Burtis and E. R. Ashwood, Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry (1994) 2nd edition, ISBN 0-7216-4472-4

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Blood_test". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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