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
The Lab Tests Online 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