The discipline originated in the late 19th century with the use of simple chemical tests for various components of blood and urine. Subsequently other techniques were applied including the use and mesurement of enzyme activities, spectrophotometry, electrophoresis and immunoassay .
Most current laboratories are now highly automated and use assays that are closely monitored and quality controlled.
Tests that actually look at the cells of blood, as well as blood clotting studies are not included as this are usually grouped under haematology.
All biochemical tests come under chemical pathology. These are usually performed on serum, (the yellow watery part of blood that is left after cells are removed).
A large laboratory will accept up to about 700 tests. Even the largest of laboratories rarely does all these these tests themselves and some need to be referred to other labs.
This large array of tests can be further sub-categorised into sub specialities of:
- General or routine chemistry
- Endocrinology to do with hormones
- Immunology to do with the study of the immune system and antibodies
- Pharmacology or Toxicology to do with the study of drugs
Common Chemical Pathology tests are listed below