Haematology is the study of all things related to blood. This includes the study of blood diseases, medicines, blood itself and the organs that form blood. Everyone has been affected by haematology at one point in their lives. Whether it is getting their blood checked to make sure they are healthy, having blood taken to find out what their blood type is, or being in need of treatments for a disease that affects the blood.
Most branches of medicine rely on haematologists in order to perform their duties and do what they need to do. It is a vital part of internal medicine, pathology, pediatrics, obstetrics, oncology and physiology. In order to diagnose most disorders or diseases doctors will start with the help of this vitally important department. They will take blood from a patient by using a small needle in the arm and collect samples of blood into collection vials and send it away to the haematology department.
This department then will study the blood and perform various tests to either determine what the disease is or to eliminate a possible disease as being the issue. A CBC also known as a FBC (complete or full blood count) is usually the first step in finding out what is going on with a person’s physical health. It can help in the diagnosis of such disorders as anemia, infections and other more serious conditions. It is called a complete or full blood count because it checks the patients blood for many things including:
- White blood cell count: this is a count of the number of white blood cells per volume of blood
- White blood cell differential which determines how many of each type of white blood cell is present in the blood
- The haemoglobin which is the amount of oxygen carrying proteins that are present in the patients blood
- Red blood cell count which tests how many red blood cells are present per volume in the patients blood
- Platelet count to see how many platelets are in the patients blood
- MCH which stands for Mean corpuscular haemoglobin which tells the haematologist how many oxygen carrying proteins are in each red blood cell
- MCV Mean corpuscular volume which will be high with vitamin B12 deficiency disorders and low with iron deficiency.
Haematology is also a large part of medical and pharmaceutical research so that it can be determined what the effect of a disease or a treatment is on one’s blood. It is responsible for much of the course of treatment for such blood cancers as leukemia and blood diseases as haemophilia but must also be a large part of research for diseases that affect every part of the body because treatments can have lasting and severe effects on ones blood and the organs in the body as well as bones and bone marrow (where blood cells are produced)
Blood banks, blood transfusions, liver disorders and problems with the spleen are all areas that rely heavily on the research and work that is done by this department. Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants and radiation are also performed with the consultation of this department. This is to keep track of and try to deal with any of the adverse affects that these treatments have on the blood of the patient and to ensure that the proper steps are being taken to keep them as healthy as possible while undergoing treatments.
Haematology is a part of everyone’s life at some point and can be the difference between life and death, sick and healthy, treatment and ignorance. It is a vital part of medicine that no other department could do their job without.