Hematology FAQs

Blood is composed of both a liquid part, called plasma, and solid portion, called blood cells. Blood cells are made in the bone marrow, which is the soft, spongy center found in most bones of the body. The different cells are manufactured upon demand from the body, and are then released into the blood stream to do their jobs.

There are three kinds of blood cells: white cells, red cells and platelets. There are several different kinds of white cells, and their role in the body is to protect it from different infections and other harmful substances. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, nourishing cells and helping to provide energy to the body. Platelets, the smallest of the cells, help prevent bleeding.

Anemia is a condition where there is a reduced number of red blood cells. This can be due to either decreased or ineffective production, or a shortened life span. Anemias can either be inherited or acquired as part of some disease.

The complete blood count (CBC) is an automated test that gives a large amount of useful information about all three blood cells. It can often provide clues to many illnesses, including non-hematologic ones, and can also give proper direction to the physician as to what kind of treatment may be necessary.

Prevention of bleeding is a complex interaction of platelets, the inner lining of veins and capillaries and proteins called coagulation factors. Bleeding can be caused by a reduced number or function of the platelets and coagulation proteins and can be inherited or acquired. Blood tests that measure the number and quality of the platelets and proteins can usually predict the risk and severity of bleeding and can provide insight into how to treat it.

Thrombophilia is a condition where a patient is at increased risk for abnormal clotting that can obstruct normal blood flow. These diverse disorders can result in painful swelling in different areas of the body – most commonly the legs or arms – or respiratory distress and chest pain from clots that are thrown off into the lungs.