The Laboratory at Toronto Liver Center is committed to accuracy and efficiency in providing test results for its patients. Lab services are provided for hematology, clinical chemistry, urinalysis, therapeutic drug monitoring, bacteriology, mycobacteriology, mycology, parasitology, diagnostic serology and cytopathology. Our laboratory facilities ensure sensitivity and privacy, as well as a focus on being as efficient as possible.
Biochemistry tests determine the processes of living organisms. Biochemistry studies the cellular reactions of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids.'
Hematology tests study blood and blood diseases. A common test in this category is used to detect infections.
Immunology tests study the immune system in the body. Pregnancy tests are common for immunology.
Microbiology tests study micro-organisms and how they affect the body. The microbiology department is commonly used to diagnose strep throat.
Histology tests study cell structures are organized in tissue. Skin cancer screening often utilizes histology.
Endocrinology tests study the endocrine glands of the body and their hormonal secretions. This test is common to determine conditions such as hypothyroidism.
Urinalysis tests is a group of chemical tests used to determine kidney and urinary tract infections or diseases.
Molecular Diagnostics tests use genetic material from the body to determine the states for health and disease. Human papillomavirus is a common test utilizing molecular diagnostics.
Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). This is the first test to show a positive result with acute hepatitis B infection. The level of the antigen rises before symptoms begin and then returns to normal.
Hepatitis B core antibody (HBcAb). This is used to assess the stage of hepatitis B infection. At times this may be the only reliable marker for the diagnosis of current or past infection.
Hepatitis A antibody (HAAb). This is used to assess the stage of hepatitis A infection. At times this may be the only reliable marker for the diagnosis of current or past infection.
HCV Antibody Testing (HCAb): Diagnosing hepatitis C begins with an antibody test. Antibodies to HCV can be detected in the blood, usually within two or three months after the virus enters the body. If a person is positive for HCV antibodies, he or she has been exposed to the virus in the past.
PCR Blood Test: PCRs are highly active tests that measure the DNA or RNA of the viruses themselves. The normal screening tests measure antibody production by the body, which is easier, but takes a little longer to develop after th initial infection. PCR test to determine whether or not the virus is in a person’s bloodstream. We can also order a quantitative PCR or bDNA test to check for the presence of HCV and to figure out the person’s HCV viral load (the amount of HCV in a measurement of blood).
Liver Function Tests: Because hepatitis C is a liver disease, doctor will want to monitor your liver’s health. The easiest way to do this is to have regular blood tests that measure the levels of liver enzymes. When hepatocytes (liver cells) become damaged by HCV, these enzymes can become elevated. Some tests to know:
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT; sometimes listed as "SGPT"): About two thirds of people with chronic hepatitis C have continuously elevated ALT levels, reflecting ongoing damage to liver cells. In one third of people with chronic hepatitis C, the ALT levels remain normal, even though they have a detectable HCV viral load. Although most of these people will live with HCV infection without any liver-related problems, roughly one quarter of people may have progression of liver disease even when ALT levels are normal. ALT, in particular, is often one of the criteria in deciding when to start HCV treatment.
Aspartate aminotransferase (AST; sometimes listed as "SGOT"): AST levels are often elevated in people with chronic hepatitis C. However, AST levels are usually lower than ALT levels. If cirrhosis occurs, AST levels can increase higher than ALT levels—a sign that damage to the liver is worsening.
Alkaline phosphatase and gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT or GGTP): These levels are usually normal. However, they may become elevated if hepatitis C progresses to cirrhosis.
Different tests will require different preparation. Your may have been asked to fast for the test. Fasting means nothing to eat or drink (this includes chewing gum, black tea or coffee) for 12 hours prior to visiting the lab. Sips of water are acceptable – and you should take any medication you regularly take, unless doctor tells you otherwise.If you are unsure if you need to fast, it’s best to confirm with the doctor or the lab before the day of test. In most cases you will feel no pain or discomfort after a laboratory test and will be able to resume your daily activity.