Sexual Health Monday September 12, 2011

How are samples processed in a lab?

Laboratory testing forms an important part of the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. LabsDirect offers patients the freedom to collect samples at home and have it tested by a certified laboratory. We work with the same laboratories that private doctor's practices use, which means that all tests are subjected to strict external and internal control prescribed by the NHS and private laboratories.

What types of samples are used in clinical laboratory testing?

Our sexual health tests currently only require our patients to provide a urine sample or a culture/lesion swab of a specific area. For tests that require you to provide a blood or semen sample, you should still go to a doctor to ensure that specimens are collected hygienically and that samples aren't tainted.

Most of our tests come with clear instructions on how to collect samples, but generally first catch urine samples should be provided in most cases where a urine sample is required. First catch means that you should start taking a sample when you start to urinate, and not halfway through, for example. First thing in the morning is usually the recommended time to collect a specimen.

How are they tested?

It's best to post any specimens back as soon as possible after completing the test. Once it arrives in the laboratory it's processed by the most appropriate department, which will most likely be microbiology. Urine samples are generally tested for bacterial culture which would be the case with chlamydia or gonorrhoea. Testing urine to determine health factors is also known as urinalysis. In a laboratory, a single bacterial element may be isolated to provide a diagnosis. PCR tests are usually conducted on samples provided on genital or lesion swabs. We've covered this in more detail in one of our previous entries, if you would like more in-depth information on PCR testing.

Currently our services are focused on tests to establish sexual health; however we are looking to expand our services to incorporate more vital tests for which samples can be collected at home.

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