Services › Blood Tests
Blood tests complement a good history taking and physical examination. They are useful in diagnosing new conditions or in monitoring a chronic condition or one’s general health. The service of blood letting is offered by our doctors who will help you decide what tests you need after a consultation. Although St. Andrews does not have an in-house laboratory, we do use the services of a local professional laboratory where all our bloods are referred to and with a daily courier service, promptly processed.
Below is a list of the more common, as well as some of the more specialised tests available. It is far from exhaustive. Not everyone will need the same set of tests. For this reason, the tests to be carried out must be discussed with a doctor. The receptionist cannot assume any responsibility for what tests you carry out nor give a definite quote without a specific request from a doctor. In the absence of that, requests for information will be directed to a doctor.
At St. Andrews we also offer Skin Prick tests. Point of care tests with immediate results. Click on this link for more information. Please note these tests are only available through our Respiratory Physician, are targeted to inhaled allergens only, and prior to the test one MUST AVOID taking any antihistamine medication.
ROUTINE BLOOD TESTS
These are what a general check-up usually includes and are recommended on a yearly basis for most people above the age of forty. They may also be recommended for the younger age groups if the need calls for it, depending on the symptoms present.
Haematology including blood count, blood picture and differential. Common reasons for this test are to look for anaemia, leukaemia and other blood disorders.
Renal function to test for the function of the kidneys including the balance of electrolytes / salts in the blood
Liver Function Tests, to test the function and health of the liver, and the impact of infections or medicines on the liver.
Blood Glucose, to help in the diagnosis of diabetes. Ideally one should fast for 6 hours for this test. Random testing may also be carried out in the clinic using a Point of Care skin prick test with an immediate result
Blood lipids, testing the levels of cholesterol in the blood and the balance between the LDH (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good cholesterol).
OTHER BLOOD TESTS
These include a blood sugar test, a urine test, and an HbA1c. This latter test gives an indication of the average levels of sugar in the preceding three months thus reflecting the control of one’s blood sugar levels. Diabetic treatment is usually based on HbA1c levels.
Thyroid Function Tests
Your thyroid is a gland in the neck and it makes hormones which control the rate of many activities in your body. These include how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. All of these activities affect your body's metabolism. The thyroid function tests will indicate if your thyroid gland in under-active or over-active while thyroid antibody tests will indicate if the thyroid is affected by an inflammatory condition.
Other Hormone Testing
The most common of the hormone tests requested are the female hormones, usually in cases of menstrual problems, difficulty in conceiving, or menopause. The male hormone, testosterone, can also be tested for as it too can fluctuate through life. Other hormone tests include the Prolactin, which can indicate a swelling in a gland in the brain, a common cause for headaches and serum cortisol.
Cancer Screening Tests
The most common cancer screening blood test is the PSA for prostate cancer. It is recommended as routine for men above 50 or those who suspect prostate swelling. The FOB (Faecal Occult Blood) is another recommended and readily available screening test for bowel cancer. Other readily available screening tests include CEA (various cancers), CA125 (ovarian), Ca50 (various including pancreatic cancer), Ca 19-9 (various also including pancreatic cancer). Please note that unlike the first two, these tests are not specific or sensitive enough to be adopted for mass screening programs. They are in fact more indicated to monitor the progress of a disease rather than its detection. These tests must thus be carried out in conjunction with a proper discussion with one’s doctor and after a thorough history taking and physical examination and are not to be carried out in isolation.
More and more markers of autoimmune conditions are being discovered and are valuable tools in the diagnosis and management of autoimmunity. Common examples would be tests for rheumatoid arthritis or other connective tissue disorders. There are now blood tests too for coeliac disease, and many more. Again, these tests must be evaluated in conjunction with a proper history and examination.
There are many tests for infectious diseases. These range from common, like the common urinary tract infection, to the more severe measles, chickenpox, and glandular fever. Infectious screening also covers the category of sexually transmitted diseases. This can be done through a blood sample to detect HIV, hepatitis and syphilis, or by urine collection to test for gonorrhoea, chlamydia, trichomonas and herpes amongst others.
Screening may also be carried out to test for immunity to infections, such as tests for Chickenpox, Measles or Hepatitis antibodies. This may be done to verify the effectivity of vaccination, such as for Hepatitis B in health care workers, or if one needs a booster vaccine, such as for German Measles in women before planning a pregnancy.
We can carry out INR testing, to monitor the efficacy of one’s warfarin treatment and tailor the dose accordingly. Blood must be taken in the morning and the result will be communicated to you in the afternoon.
Available both as a Point of Care urine test, with kits readily available from St. Andrews Dispensary next door and with immediate results, or by the more accurate Beta hCG blood test which confirms both the pregnancy and stage of pregnancy. If taken in the morning the result will be available by the evening.
Tests for Calcium, Magnesium and Iron, important both for general health, hair skin and nails health, some circulatory problems, as well as muscle aches, cramps and fatigue, among others.
These include tests for Vitamin B12, Folic Acid and Vitamin D.
At St. Andrews we offer blood tests detecting IgE antibodies to an array of substances, be they inhaled allergens, allergens in food or drink, or environmental allergens. Though very accurate, the test is ideally carried out during an allergic attack as that is when the IgE antibodies are produced. In the period where there is no attack, and especially if one has been avoiding allergen exposure effectively, there runs the risk of the IgE antibodies being absent and a false negative result happening.