Clinical viscosity and its testing: a medical and laboratory perspective

In part one of a two-part series David Norcliffe presents a study of clinical viscosity, outlining how it is measured and how it is used as part of the diagnosis of various conditions. Part two – to run in the next issue – looks at future applications of this technology.

Clinical viscometers are used for measuring the viscosity of human biological fluids: blood plasma, blood serum, whole blood, and synovial fluid. Most commonly, clinical viscosity testing is used with a population of any person over three years old but can also be used for younger patients too. The intended function is to screen, monitor and aid in diagnosis of multiple clinical conditions by establishing the viscosity of patient samples to produce quantitative data. To further aid in diagnosis the results from clinical samples are correlated to indicative viscosity ranges for specific conditions. There are an increasing number of conditions and risk factors that the clinical viscosity test is intended to screen, monitor and aid in diagnosis for. These include (but are not limited to):

The possible applications for clinical viscosity measurement are much greater than the above and there is the potential to increase and improve where and how it may be used. Whilst work on this is currently being done much is still to be explored and formal research to be undertaken.


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