Haematology is the study of the physiology and morphology of blood. It is a branch of medicine that is concerned with the study, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of diseases related to blood. Physicians specializing in haematology are called haematologists. Their primary work is to care and treat patients with haematological diseases. Some of them even work in a laboratory to view and analyze blood films and marrow slide to interpret various test results.
What is haematology test?
Haematologists carry out various tests to determine the nature of blood diseases. Haematology tests include lab assessment of blood disorders and blood formation. One of the most common tests is the full blood count (FBC) test. Haematology FBC test measures the quantity of cells in the blood and describes the features of red blood cells. This test suits those who are looking for a general health assessment of their blood. It helps to identify conditions such as anaemia and infections. A full FBC test does the following:
- It counts the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets per ml of blood
- Measures size of red blood cells and their average mean size
- Measures the amount of haemoglobin in red blood cells
- Calculates the blood proportion made up of red blood cells
Haematology ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) is a relatively simple and inexpensive test that helps detect inflammation with conditions such as cancer, infection and autoimmune disease. This test helps to diagnose certain specific inflammatory diseases and is reported as millimetres of plasma present in the tube after an hour.
Some of the other tests prescribed by hematology doctors are as follows:
- Blood enzyme test
- Blood chemistry test
- Assessment of granulocytosis
- Bone marrow test
- Coombs' test
- Spleen biopsy examination
- Hemophagocytic syndrome assessment
Diseases treated by a haematology consultant
A haematology consultant treats the following diseases:
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Malignant lymphomas
The consultant also monitors blood transfusion and bone marrow stem cell transplantation.
Subspecialties in Haematology
Within haematology, there is the opportunity to develop further competence in one or more sub specialities. Some of them are:
As the name suggests paediatric haematology deals with blood diseases related to children. Paediatric haematologists treat children right from their birth to young adulthood for diseases such as leukaemia, lymphoma, brain tumour, bleeding disorder, etc.
Obstetric haematology, Academic haematology, Haemato-oncology and Laboratory haematology are some of the other fields of subspecialties.
A haematology consultant provides consultancy and advisory services to all general practitioners and hospital specialists. They work with patients of all age groups and manage malignant as well as benign conditions.