Table of Contents
What Are The Types Of Laboratories?
There are a variety of laboratories you can visit to assess your health and wellbeing. Clinical laboratories, pharmacies, nutritionists’ clinics, and oral surgeons are some of the medical facilities that may use laboratory tests to collect data about a person’s physical condition. The type of laboratory used will depend on the purpose of the test being performed.
For example, clinical laboratories typically administer diagnostic tests to determine overall health. Pharmacies run experiments or take samples to establish a person’s exposure levels to substances or pathogens. Nutritionist clinics may conduct antigen testing for inflammation or infection indicators; whereas, an oral surgeon might order a swab test to check for cavities or gum disease risk factors.
This article outlines why these different types of laboratories are important, and whether they are necessary.
An immunoassay is one of the most common types of laboratories you will find in any health field. This type of test looks for antibodies or proteins in your blood that indicate an infection or disease process.
Immunoassays are usually done using either an oral, intravenous, or direct contact with fluid method to gather samples. You will be given a quick lesson before testing on how to prepare yourself for the procedure.
Once the sample is gathered, a machine calculates the amount of antibody present in the fluid and compares it to a standardized table. If there is enough antibody present, then we can say with high probability that there is an infectious agent present.
This article’s website contains more information about different types of immunoassays! https://www.healthline.
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) laboratory
ELISAs are one of the most popular types of diagnostic testing used to determine if there is an immune response to a specific antigen or compound.
An enzyme linked immunosorbant assays (or ELISA for short) begins with a solution containing antibodies that bind to a certain target molecule. This targeted molecule can be found in blood, urine, saliva, or other fluids in the body.
Next, the antibody solution is mixed into a plate that has the target molecules pre-immobilized. Then, any proteins in your serum that match the target molecules get bound to the immobilized targets using the antibodies as “stepping stones” to move from the fluid onto the solid surface.
The protein content of the fluid is then determined by detecting the presence of those antibodies using another piece of equipment called an ELISA reader. The intensity of color given off by each antibody is noted and compared to a reference table, which gives you an indication of what markers may indicate disease or infection.
Radioimmunoassay (RIA) laboratory
RIA is an immunoassay technique that was originally used to measure corticosteroids in blood samples, but has since been adapted for many other applications. In this method, antibodies are mixed with a sample containing the antigen being tested for. Then, a second antibody that can be detected using a radiolabeled marker is added and bound antigens are separated based on whether they contain the target antigen.
The amount of radioactivity of each antibody is determined and correlated with the concentration of the antigen in the original test solution. This correlation allows us to calculate the concentration of the antigen in the sample — what we call the serum or plasma antigen level.
Researchers have extended RA into several different types, depending upon the analyte and the clinical context in which it’s being measured. A few examples include enzymatic assays for certain enzymes, such as alkaline phosphatase; colorometric reactions like those used to determine glucose levels in urine and saliva; and fluorescence-based methods such as fluoroquinolone drugs, where the drug itself acts as the fluorescent reagent.
All of these newer RIAs use either natural or synthetic analogues of their respective analytes to produce detectable signals.
Immunoflourescence assay (IFA) laboratory
An immunofluorescence assay (IFA) or fluorescent antibody test is an important tool in diagnosing infectious diseases. In this test, your body’s immune system cells are used to identify specific pathogens.
Certain bacteria, parasites, and viruses can be identified using antibodies that bind to partials of these organisms. Your blood or other fluids are mixed with the antigen (dye molecule) you want to detect, and then fluorescein-labeled antibodies are added.
If there are antibodies present that recognize the antigens, the antibodies will link up with the antigen and show as a bright green color under a microscope.
You can read more about IFA tests here! And don’t forget to check out our related articles below for more information.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) laboratory
PCR is another way to test for viruses. It begins with what’s called “primer-extension,” where a specific sequence of DNA comes into contact with some of the fluid being tested.
The primer then replicates along with the virus it has come in contact with, creating more copies of that exact same DNA sequence. This process can be repeated many times, which allows you to detect very small amounts of viral RNA or DNA.
Because there are so many steps involved, PCR takes longer than other testing methods. Your doctor will probably ask you to do a self-test using this method before ordering a professional one.
You can do your own PCR at home by buying reagents online or from specialty stores.
A chromatographic laboratory is an equipment-filled area that analyzes liquids for chemical components. These labs use separation science to analyze your sample.
Chromatography is the study of particles and their movement through liquid. For example, when you run a blood test, red blood cells (an important component of blood) will separate from other fluids in your body. This information can be used to determine if there are health issues with your blood or not.
A typical chromatographic lab uses a tube as a container to hold a small amount of liquid. Then they add another fluid (the solvent) which moves the liquid along more quickly or slowly depending on what element it contains. The element then attaches itself to the liquid either falling off or floating away.
The scientist performing the test adds the extra fluid until only one particle remains – the specific element they were looking for! They then analyze the particle to see how much of the given element it contained. By doing this several times, the doctor can get a pretty good picture of what parts of your body are functioning well and what are not.
Mass spectrometry (MS) laboratory
MS is an important tool for identifying organic compounds in fluids, such as blood or urine. In this type of testing, samples are run through a device called a mass spec that breaks down molecules into their component parts.
These individual pieces are then identified by what element they contain- if you know the molecule’s name, you can look it up and find out which element it contains.
By looking at the ratio of these elements, we are able to make some assumptions about the molecular structure of the original compound. For example, when looking at cholesterol levels in your blood, we use the ratio of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen to determine whether or not the level is high.
There are several types of MS labs, but all work on the same basic principle- breaking large particles down into smaller ones so that they can be analyzed more precisely.
Blood gas analysis (BGA)
A blood gas test checks how well your body is breathing and perfusing tissue cells to use oxygen and get rid of waste products. These tests measure the amount of oxygen, carbon dioxide, or both in your blood.
A normal BGA will check for these chemicals in your blood and calculate what parts are too high or too low using standard laboratory techniques. If you have trouble sleeping, have frequent night time wake-ups, feel tired during the day, or find it difficult to breathe when lying down, then chances are you need to know if your asthma is under control or not!
You would also do this test if you noticed changes in the way your lungs functioned. For example, if you develop shortness of breath after exercising or trying to talk more than usual. This could be due to an overall drop in air quality due to symptoms of asthma, but also because your lung’s natural protection systems aren’t working as well.
There are two main types of BGAs that can be done at most hospitals. They are called direct measurement analyses or indirect/difference method analyses. The indirect methods require additional supplies such as glucose solution and saline solution, so make sure to buy enough for the test. Direct measurements don’t require any extra solutions, however they are much costlier than indirect ones.