Frequently asked questions
- How should I prepare for blood drawing?
It is recommended to avoid any medications 48 hours before sampling (except those prescribed as mandatory by your doctor), intensive physical activity and alcohol. You should not eat for 12 hours before blood taking. Your last meal can be a light supper, at no later than 7 p.m. You can drink water even after 7 p.m. In the morning, on the day of blood taking, nothing is permitted to consume except water.
- Please explain the method of collecting a sample for urine culture?
For urine culture, the medium-strength stream of the first morning urination after hygiene is sampled. It is important not to wipe oneself after hygiene and before urination.
The first morning urine is the one passed after an eight-hour sleep (no shorter than 4 hours!).
Do not pass the first stream of the first morning urine into a sterile container, since this urine is contaminated by the physiological flora of the urethra and the skin (i.e. by the bacterial located at the start of the urethra and the sex organs' skin).
Close the container carefully, paying attention not to contaminate the inside of the container and the cap by hands.
Do not keep the sample longer than two hours at room temperature. The sample can be kept for 12-24 hours maximum in a refrigerator at + 4º C.
Testing should be done 3-4 days following antibiotic therapy, except for the ciprofloxacin and azithromycin antibiotics which require at least 7 days waiting after the last pill.
- I want to know details related to the fecal occult blood test?
It is recommended not to take any medications that may lead to hemorrhaging in the digestive system and the occurrence of fecal blood (aspirin, indomethacin, phenylbutazone, reserpine, corticosteroids etc.).
The test should be delayed in cases of diarrhea, menstruation, hemorrhoid bleeding and hematuria.
It is recommended to analyze three consecutive bowel movements over three days, two samples from various places in each sampling.
- I should do a Helicobacter breath test. Is there any kind of special preparation for this test and how long does the test take to complete?
In case of a urea (Helicobacter pylori) breath test, you should eat or drink nothing for 6 hours before testing, preferably during night. The test procedure takes about 40 minutes to complete.
Testing should be done at least 4 weeks after a systematic antibiotic treatment, or two weeks after the last dose of antisecretory drugs, since reduced Helicobacter growth may result in false-positives.
- Does tumor marker detection require not taking any food or drink?
You may consume food or drink prior to tumor marker detection.
- Doctor wants me to do fPSA detection, is that the same as PSA? If not, please explain the difference? I would also like to know what is f/T?
PSA is the only tumor marker that is useful in examining healthy population as a screening test for men above the age of 50 since its blood level depends on the size of the prostate and the existence of a prostate condition. It is not tumor-specific and therefore is present in increased concentrations even in case of benign prostate conditions.
PSA exists in various molecular forms in the circulation. There is 10-30% of free PSA (fPSA) in the serum. It represents an enzymatically inactive form and is an important parameter in the differential diagnosis of prostate conditions.
Calculating the fPSA/PSA ratio enables better differentiation of carcinoma patients from patients with benign prostate hyperplasia, especial in case of border values of total PSA:
Prostate cancer patients have lower fPSA concentrations in circulation and therefore their ratios are lower, while in healthy persons and benign prostate conditions this is not the case.
- I should do a βHCG. Does this test require not taking any food or drink?
You are not prevented from taking food or drink in case of a βHCG detection test.
- Which tumor markers are detected for testicular cancer?
The tumor markers monitored for testicular cancer are LDH, AFP and βHCG.
- Doctor referred me for a combined Down syndrome screening in the first trimester of pregnancy. Do I have to draw blood on the same day when ultrasound is to be done?
It is important to note that blood does NOT need to be taken on the day of the ultrasound examination by a gynecologist, but it is important for both items to be performed within the given gestation period.
- What is CRP and what is its diagnostic relevance?
CRP is an acronym for C-reactive protein. It concentrations are very low in healthy persons. It is a very sensitive marker of an inflammatory process in the organism; it enables its early detection and the monitoring of responses to treatment. It is relevant in differential diagnostics of bacterial and viral inflammatory conditions since its concentrations are significantly higher in case of bacterial inflammations.
- I have increased GGT level and no symptoms whatsoever. What should I do?
GGT (gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase) is an enzyme present in many organs, coming into blood primarily from the liver and gallbladder system. This GGT increase in your case can be temporary, possibly caused by medications you might use or previous alcohol consumption. If your other liver tests are normal, it would be advisable to redo the test after a certain period of time while adhering to the blood drawing instructions. And if GGT is very high and/or your other liver enzyme levels are increased as well, additional testing should be done according to physician's recommendation to identify the cause.
- I received peroral iron therapy for 3 months, what is the earliest time when I can check whether the therapy was successful?
According to recommendations, seven to ten days following the completion of the iron therapy you can have your blood taken to determine iron concentration. It is important that you do not drink any vitamin-enriched juices/beverages (bilberry, black currant, blackberry, beetroot) or blackberry wine since they can result in false-increased concentrations of iron in blood. It is also important to note that iron determination should not be done in an acute infection condition.
- I had a general medical examination which included a urine test. The test result indicated 25 erythrocytes and everything else was OK, including leukocytes. What does it mean and what should I do?
Urine of healthy persons may contain several erythrocytes, but no more than 2 on a microscopic field of high magnifying power. The presence of erythrocytes in urine, i.e. hematuria, is a serious diagnostic finding and always indicates a hemorrhage due to a urinary system infection or kidney disease. If blood is macroscopically visible, this is called macrohematuria, and if blood can be detected only by microscopic examination it is a case of microhematuria. Also, erythrocytes in urine may occur as a consequence of an inadequate sample, i.e. presence of blood due to hemorrhoids or menstruation. In any case, you should consult your physician.
- What is hemoglobin A1c?
Glycosylated hemoglobin, i.e. hemoglobin A1c, is a component of hemoglobin (erythrocyte protein) which is increased in diabetic patients. Since glucose binds to red blood cells during their entire lifetime, determining HbA1c provides knowledge of the average glucose concentration for the period of the preceding 3 to 4 months. Unlike determining blood glucose which indicates its current concentration in blood, HbA1c points to glucose fluctuations in the preceding period and indicates the level of success of therapy as well as the level of control of glucose concentration exercised daily by patients themselves. It is recommended to determine HbA1c at least twice a year and 4 times a year for patients whose therapy is modified or who are unable to attain set therapy goals.
- I have recently been to a laboratory for a prothrombin time test since I take Marivarin. The lab staff told me that I could get my results the next day so I phoned to find out about my result. However, they refused to tell me about it by phone and said that someone should come and pick up the result in person or for my doctor to call them if no one was able to come. Why is that I, as the patient, could not have been informed about my result by phone?
A lab test result is a document which has to be received by the patient himself or a person authorized to do so on his behalf in written form and as such it is delivered to the physician who requests for tests to be done. In most laboratories, patients may request a delivery of results by regular mail or e-mail, in which case they are not required to come to the laboratory after blood taking. According to the principles of good laboratory practice, lab test results must never be imparted to patients by spoken communication, or in this case by phone, and this is primarily in the interest of patients (an error in spoken notification of test results may have immeasurable consequences for the patient). As an exception, an authorized physician may verbally request test results for his patient, but not the patient himself.
- I am 24 years old. Two years ago, I became ill with lower leg thrombosis. For a year after the thrombosis I had to take Marivarin. Currently I receive no therapy at all, and my physician has ordered thrombophilia tests. What kind of tests are those and why has he ordered them?
Since you became ill with a deep vein thrombosis at a young age, it is justifiable in your case to do the so-called thrombophilia screening tests. These tests should determine whether you have any of the known congenital and/or acquired factors responsible for the hemostatic disorder which may have resulted in vein thrombosis. Most thrombophilia tests must not be carried out while the patient receives the above therapy due to its influence on test results, which is why your physician has ordered them now, after the completion of the therapy, which is completely correct.
- As of recently, I take a daily dose of Martefarin which is why I frequently have to do PT INR tests. Should I take the medication before or after blood drawing for this test?
Patients who take the medication referred to above should take it after blood drawing on the day of the PT INR test. For instance, a patient comes for blood drawing in the morning and takes the medicine after the blood drawing procedure.
- Am I required not to take any food or drink before blood drawing for blood count tests?
It is desirable for all laboratory tests that patients come with an empty stomach, which means they should not take any food for 12 hours prior to blood taking. In the morning on the day of blood drawing, patients are allowed to drink only water. This is also required for blood count tests when patients are scheduled to come to the laboratory for blood drawing. However, if the test has to be done urgently (e.g. in emergency cases), blood count samples are taken even if the patient has consumed food or drink.
- My one year old daughter was drawn blood from a finger when she was admitted for emergency pediatric care in order to do blood count. We were soon afterwards informed from the lab that the drawn blood was not good (or as the doctor said to me: "The blood clotted.") and they had to redo the procedure. Why did they have to take blood from the child twice for the same test?
In child population, blood count samples are commonly taken from fingers (capillary samples), unless any of the tests require vein blood. The basic reason is to take as little blood as possible and avoid using veins. Such capillary sample is taken into small test tubes, and the sampling procedure is often more difficult with small children. In this case the possibility for blood clotting is increased and if this happens blood testing cannot be done. This is why it was necessary for your daughter to be taken capillary blood samples twice for the same blood count test.
- Will I receive a blood typing result along with my complete blood count?
Complete blood count is only one of the numerous tests carried out using vein or capillary blood samples. This test includes the determination of parameters obtained by hematology counters including the total leukocytes count and differential blood count, red blood cell parameters and the thrombocyte count. The determination of blood type is a separate test carried out as part of patients' blood transfusion tests and is not included in complete blood count testing.