What are medical laboratory procedures in the office?

Every fluid, tissue, secretion or excretion of the body is now submitted to examinations for the detection of disease. Our knowledge of disturbances of the blood is quite recent, because the microscope is used to count the red cells and the white cells of different varieties and also the blood platelets. The blood is examined as to its content of sugar, protein, various salts and vitamins, drugs and bacteria. The urine gives early hints of trouble with the kidneys and the beginnings of diabetes. The excretion from the bowel shows the presence of worms and of the parasites that cause dysentery and diarrhea, blood may be due to cancers or even to bleeding piles.

With a stomach pump the doctor obtains material from the stomach and the upper portion of the intestines. He can tell whether or not there is excess of acid or absence of acid in the gastric juice. Recently the test called the Papanicalaou test has been applied to find cancer of the lungs, uterus or elsewhere.

Your doctor will not use every test that has been mentioned every time you see him or even any one time. A wise doctor is guided by his knowledge and experience as to the tests he wants to use, and he lowers the cost of medical service by having only those tests that may be really helpful in the individual case. However, many tests are so simple and inexpensive that they are simply routine.
With a watch the doctor can count the pulse and feel its volume and regularity. Estimation of the blood pressure is a simple office procedure now often carried out by technicians. Determination of the red blood cells and the amount of red coloring matter can be done in the patient’s home or elsewhere.

Here are some normal or average values from which the doctor may get a clue of importance:

  • Basal metabolic rate-Plus or minus 10 per cent
  • Red blood cells-4.2 to 5.5 million per cubic millimeter
  • White blood cells-5 to 10 thousand per cubic millimeter
  • Blood platelets-200 to 500 thousand per cubic millimeter Bleeding before blood clots-1 to 5 minutes
  • Hemoglobin or red coloring matter in blood-13 to 16 grams per 100 milliliter
  • Blood sugar-70 to 100 milligrams per 100 milliliters
  • Urine is tested for presence or absence of albumen, sugar or blood or pus;
  • also as to quantity, density, color, etc.
  • Spinal fluid is examined as to presence of protein and sugar and as to number
  • of cells
  • Circulation time-23 seconds during 27 beats of the heart Heart rate-measured by pulse
  • Men .. 65 to 72 beats per minute Women 70 to 80 beats per minute Children .. 72 to 92 beats per minute Infants 110 to 130 beats per minute
  • Blood pressure-Above 140 considered abnormal
  • Below 100 considered abnormal
  • Calories needed per day-From 2400 for a sedentary person to 6000 or
  • 8000 for a heavy worker
  • Duration of pregnancy-About 280 days
  • Temperature-Fahrenheit
  • By mouth  98.61
  • By rectum  99.6°