What is Clinical Chemistry

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Posted 05 Mar 2010 in Clinical Chemistry

Clinical chemistry is defined in layman’s language as the study of the substance in biological fluids most specifically blood,  the methods and principles of determination, the intrinsic and extrinsic precautions, the normal levels and the clinical significance of abnormal values.

It belongs to the same discipline as clinical toxicology, endocrinology, physical chemistry, qualitative chemistry, quantitative chemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, general chemistry, and biochemistry.

Clinical chemistry is tackled in three general topics for medical technology students. Clinical chemistry 1 is Pure Blood Chemistry including the following topics: Introduction to clinical chemistry, laboratory math, quality assurance, specimen collection, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, renal functions tests, and liver function tests.

Clinical chemistry 2 is Special Chemistry, which includes automation, blood gas analysis (BGA), electrolytes and enzymology.  Blood gas analysis is very important in the maintenance of the acidity and alkalinity of blood.  The determination has special precautions like an anaerobic collection and the use of dry heparin as an anticoagulant. Electrolytes, on the other hand, are very important substances too that the body has to maintain concentrations of. An elevation and decrease of the concentration levels indicates an existing pathologic condition.

Clinical chemistry 3 includes Toxicology, endocrinology, and drug testing.  Toxicology is the section that deals with toxins that affect man. These include heavy metals, over-dosage of prescribed drugs, prohibited drugs, strong acids, strong bases and many more.  Drug testing is specifically for drugs of abuse and illegal drugs. For endocrinology, different hormones in the body are studied and are utilized to help in the diagnosis of diseases.

Universities and colleges may differ a little bit from the topics included with each phase of clinical chemistry. What is important is that all of the topics are included and are discussed.

Clinical chemistry also is one very important section in the clinical laboratory because it is here where the concentrations of various substances are determined.  Normal levels of each substance have been established and this is the basis for interpreting whether the results or concentrations of the unknown substance is normal or not. It the values fall below or above the normal levels, and then there is an existing pathologic condition or disease in the person. That is why it is very important that all procedures starting from patient identification, to specimen collection, to assaying, to reporting and recording should be reliable.  Correct diagnosis of the patients’ condition is very important to facilitate successful therapy.

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