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About Pathology Lab Tests

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those tubes of blood when you get blood tests?

One tube of blood can provide a great deal of information about a person — 70 to 80 percent of all clinical diagnoses are based, in part, on the results of laboratory tests on blood, urine, or other body fluids.

If your doctor thinks that you may have a disease or other type of condition, he or she will seek objective evidence so that a firm diagnosis is possible.

For instance, he or she may suspect diabetes based on a physical exam, symptoms, and so forth, but cannot make a diagnosis without a confirmation of abnormal blood sugar (glucose) levels.

Doctors use lab test results in the context of other information about your health to arrive at a complete picture of your diagnosis.

Where Your Samples Go and What They Can Tell Us

One of the first steps in diagnosis is testing, and most initial testing happens in the pathology lab.

After your blood is drawn or urine is collected, the fluids are sent to our doctors for testing and analysis. Every day, we perform thousands of sophisticated tests to measure levels of cholesterol, blood sugar (glucose), hemoglobin, hormones, and other substances in the body.

These lab tests can:

  • tell us why you're experiencing symptoms
  • screen for the risk of a disease before the disease is present
  • rule out a disease or condition
  • indicate how advanced a disease might be
  • show us how well your treatment is working
  • provide your doctor with your lab results in the context of other information about your health to help your doctor arrive at a complete picture of your diagnosis

Get Involved

Learn how you can help us help others by supporting our pathology research.

Click to open the secure UPMC online donation form.