Haematology

blood test tubes

In the Haematology Laboratory we carry out a wide variety of tests to diagnose a range of haematological conditions.

We provide a round-the-clock service interpreting test results and advising on the appropriate use of blood components.

While some of the services provided by the department are only available within routine working hours (9am-5.30pm Monday to Friday), some are essential services and are available at all times. These include blood bank, common general haematology and coagulation tests. We also provide a 9am to 5pm service to GPs.

  • Coagulation: Includes performing clotting screens on inpatients and outpatients that may have disturbed coagulation resulting from a variety of conditions, plus specialist factor assays to support the diagnosis and monitoring of patients with clotting factor deficiencies, for example children with haemophilia.
  • Blood Bank: Provides blood components e.g. red cells, platelets and plasma for patients requiring planned surgery or life-threatening emergencies/accidents. It also supports patients with anaemia that require transfusion secondary to the side effects of treatment for an underlying disease e.g. acute leukaemia. Blood products, e.g. factor VIII are supplied to help treat haemophilia.
  • Flow Cytometry: Essential as part of the diagnosis for new cases of haematological diseases such as acute leukaemia. It is also used for the monitoring of lymphocyte subset numbers in patients with HIV/AIDS and other immune disorders.
  • Capillary blood collection service: This is provided for outpatient clinics, inpatients and for GP patients. Though the achievable sample volume is limited, this technique is usually more acceptable in a paediatric setting.

Services

Automation

Full blood count (FBC) samples are processed through an automated blood counter – Advia 120 – which provides information on many parameters of the blood, including the haemoglobin (Hb), white cell count (WCC), white cell sub-populations (neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, etc.) and the platelet count.

The information derived from these can be used to help identify the presence of infection, monitor a patient’s response to therapy or assist in the diagnosis of disease (e.g. leukaemia). The red cell size is also measured which can help determine the cause of anaemia.

Microscopy

For the full investigation of some blood disorders, it is necessary to examine a film of blood spread on a slide. When stained with particular dyes and viewed with a microscope, the red cells, white cells and platelets can clearly be distinguished by their physical appearance which may give additional information analysers cannot provide, e.g. presence of malaria.

Haemoglobinopathy investigations

Some disorders of red blood cells are of genetic origin, for example, sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia. Closely examining the type of haemoglobin in red cells can help in the diagnosis and monitoring of these and other red cell abnormalities.

Cytochemistry

Using special dyes, white cells in blood and bone marrow can be examined microscopically aiding the diagnosis and monitoring of leukaemias.

Bone marrow transplantation

The laboratory supports the bone marrow transplantation of patients with malignant disease (e.g. leukaemia) and serious non-malignant disease (e.g. sickle cell anaemia).

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