Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Pathology tests help medical professionals to prevent, diagnose and manage many health issues.

Pathology tests help medical professionals to prevent, diagnose and manage many health issues.
beginning of content

Understanding pathology tests

2-minute read

Pathology tests can help your doctor understand many health issues you face. This page will allow you to have a good discussion with your doctor about the results.

What are pathology tests?

A pathology test is a test that examines samples of your body’s tissues, including your blood, urine, faeces (poo), samples obtained by biopsy. Doctors use this information for diagnosis and treatment of diseases and other conditions.

Why are pathology tests important?

Pathology tests help doctors and nurses prevent, diagnose, manage and monitor many conditions, including allergies, infections, chronic diseases and cancer.  

Before your test

Follow any instructions given to you about the test. For some tests, you need special preparation such as fasting. Let collection centre staff know if you have not followed the instructions for any reason.

Let your doctor know about any medications you are taking, including herbal or over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications.

If you have other questions about the tests, or are not sure of what you need to do, it is best to check with your doctor or call the pathology collection centre.

Reading the test results

The best person to help you understand your results is the doctor who ordered the test.

Even if the laboratory labels a result as being abnormal, this does not necessarily mean that there is a problem. If you have enough tests done, something will eventually show up as abnormal.

Your doctor will take into account many factors then talk to you about whether an abnormal test result is a sign of a problem, or is just one of those things.

Key points to discuss with your doctor

You might want talk to your doctor about:

  • which tests are best for you and why
  • what you need to do before, during, or after the test
  • what the results might mean for your health, such as whether you need any treatment
  • whether any abnormal results are important
  • whether you will need any follow up tests

More information

The Pathology Tests Explained website has a number of resources and services available if you need help or more information on pathology testing.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2020


Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Understanding your tests - Pathology Tests Explained

This page aggregates information that directly links to Pathology Tests Explained

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Looking for your results? - Pathology Tests Explained

This page aggregates information that directly links to Pathology Tests Explained

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

What the 6 most common pathology tests reveal about your health | Know Pathology Know Healthcare

What the 6 most common pathology tests reveal about your health Apr 1, 2016 0 Comment Post By:Annette Stenhouse Over 500 million pathology tests were ordered for Australians in the last 12 months, covering a vast array of diseases and conditions from cholesterol checks to cancer diagnoses

Read more on Know Pathology Know Healthcare website

Misleading or inappropriate tests - Pathology Tests Explained

This page aggregates information that directly links to Pathology Tests Explained

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Testing for COVID-19: what does it tell us? - NPS MedicineWise

Find out about tests for COVID-19, how they work and what they can tell us.

Read more on NPS MedicineWise website

Reading your results - Pathology Tests Explained

This page aggregates information that directly links to Pathology Tests Explained

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Patient support organisations - Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Patient support organisations

Read more on ASCIA – Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy website

Lyme disease fact sheet - Fact sheets

Lyme disease fact sheet

Read more on NSW Health website

Herpes: your questions answered - MyDr.com.au

Your questions about herpes answered, including how do you know if you have genital herpes, how is herpes diagnosed, and do I have to tell my partner if I have herpes?

Read more on myDr website

How samples are collected - Pathology Tests Explained

This page aggregates information that directly links to Pathology Tests Explained

Read more on Pathology Tests Explained website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.