A blood test is a laboratory analysis performed on a blood sample that is usually extracted from a vein in the arm using a needle, or via fingerprick.
Blood tests are used to determine physiological and biochemical states such as disease, mineral content, drug effectiveness, and organ function. Although the term blood test is used, most routine tests (except for most haematology) are done on plasma or serum instead of blood cells.
is useful as it is a relatively non-invasive
way to obtain cells
, and extracellular fluid
), 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
, laboratory technicians and nurses
are those charged with patient blood extraction. However, in special circumstances, and emergency situations, paramedics
sometimes extract blood. Also, respiratory therapists
are trained to extract arterial blood for arterial blood gasses
Types of blood tests
A basic metabolic panel
, blood urea nitrogen
, 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 and oxygen levels related to pulmonary function. But, it is also used to measure 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.
In 2008, scientists announced that the more cost effective saliva tests
could eventually replace some blood tests, as saliva contains 20% of the proteins found in blood.