As a branch of internal medicine, hematology deals with organ systems, specifically the blood. Doctors who engage in internal medicines are called “internists” or the “doctor’s doctor” because they are often consulted by other doctors to help them diagnose a particularly puzzling problem.
The internist may be a general practitioner or may specialize in sub-fields, including cardiology and hematology. The former deals with the heart and related diseases while the latter involves the study of blood-forming organs. An internist who sub-specializes in hematology may study the etiology, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and prevention of blood diseases.
What the Hematologist Does?
The hematologist, or the person who works in hematology, may not only be responsible for treating blood diseases and research, but may also engage in the management of the hematology laboratory, where his work ranges from working at the microscope to viewing blood films and bone marrow slides, interpreting various hematology test results to care of in- and out-patients.
In addition, hematologists may also specialize further in the any of the following areas:
* Treatment of bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia
* Treatment of hematological malignancies, including lymphoma and leukemia
* Treatment of hemoglobinopathies
* Blood transfusion
* Work of a blood bank
Hematology Diseases and Blood Tests
The study of blood diseases represents the core of hematology. Hematologists identify the problem by using a variety of hematology blood tests or what is commonly known as “blood work” – a clinical laboratory diagnostic blood testing to diagnose medical conditions.
Some of the most common blood tests used in hematology include:
* Autoimmune disease blood test
* Cancer detection blood testing
* Blood diseases testing
* Infectious disease blood test
* Liver disease blood test
* Environmental toxin blood testing
* Blood cholesterol test
* Kidney disease blood test
Any one or a combination of these methods will help determine diagnosis of a patient. After taking a blood sample from the patient, the hematologist will study this sample and identify any problems, if any.
The diseases that come under the scope of hematology include the following:
* Anemia – a common blood disorder wherein the red blood cells are unable to produce adequate oxygen supplies to body tissues.
* Blood cholesterol – this is an important attribute in deciding a person’s risk of getting coronary heart disease.
* Lymphatic filariasis – a debilitating blood disease transmitted through mosquitoes that is common throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Asia, the Pacific Islands and Africa.
* Hemochromatosis – a hereditary blood disorder that causes body tissues to absorb and store too much iron.
* Hemophilia – a genetic blood disease wherein the blood is unable to form a firm clot normally and quickly
There are various other diseases that are included in the study of hematology. Hematologists are frequently faced with a situation wherein their expertise in blood testing methods come into play as medical doctors specializing in other fields consult them on a particularly difficult case.
The blood plays a crucial role in the biological life of a human being. Without blood, our bodies would simply stop working. But as life-giving and powerful a force blood is inside the body, it is still susceptible to disorders. Its malfunction eventually leads to morphological abnormalities known commonly as “blood diseases.”
The field of medicine that deals directly with blood diseases is called hematology. A specialist in hematology – a hematologist – will study a person’s blood and blood-forming organs in order to come up with accurate diagnosis and proper treatment for the disease.
However, there are far too many diseases relating to the blood that it would be difficult for the hematologist to diagnose one particular condition. For this, he needs aids and tools, such as a properly equipped laboratory, microscopes for examining blood sample slides, and hematology tests.
Hematology tests or blood tests, especially, are one of the commonest methods used to monitor blood diseases. Below are some of the hematology tests that hematologists rely on in conducting their studies:
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
This particular hematology test is used to aid in diagnosing such diseases as anemia, certain cancers of the blood as well as monitoring blood loss and infection. There are six subtypes under this category of hematology tests and they are:
* White Blood Cell (WBC) Count – The average healthy adult has 4,000-11,000 white blood cells per cubic millimeter or microliter of blood. If the WBC count is high, this means that an infection is present in the body, since white blood cells (leukocytes) are responsible for defending the body against infection. On the other hand, if the WBC count is low, this can mean that a specific disease or drug has impaired the bone marrow’s ability to produce new white blood cells.
* Red Blood Cell (RBC) Count – Normal RBC count is between 3.6 and 6.1 million in a single cubic millimeter of blood. The red blood cells, or erythrocytes, are responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the organs and carbon dioxide from the organs to the lungs. If RBC count is low, the condition is commonly known as anemia.
* Platelets – Called thrombocytes, platelets are the elements in the blood that are directly involved in the formation of blood clots. Normal platelet count is around 150,000 to 440,000 per cubic millimeter of blood.
* Hematocrit Red Blood Cell Volume (HCT)
* Hemoglobin Concentration (HB)
* Differential Blood Count
Prothrombin Time (PT)
This specific hematology test is used by hematologists to evaluate bleeding and clotting disorders. In addition, this hematology test may also be used to monitor anticoagulation or anti-clotting therapies.
This type of hematology test in hematological studies includes physical examination of color, pH level, and gravity. It may also include chemical analysis for blood, proteins, glucose, and other substances that may be contained in the urine sample. Also, a microscopic examination of the red and white blood cells, bacteria, and other substances may also help the hematologist diagnose kidney and bladder infections as well as other diseases.