Samples of body fluids
Samples of body fluids are secretions and other body fluids obtained to diagnose a wide range of disorders.
Some body fluids have a protective role, such as the mucus lining the respiratory tract. Other body fluids, such as pus from a wound, form or increase in volume as a result of disease.
Most body fluids are collected to look for evidence of infection or for cancer. However, certain body fluids may be collected for other purposes. For example, the amniotic fluid that surrounds and protects a fetus in the uterus contains shed fetal skin cells that can be used for genetic tests (see Antenatal genetic tests).
You can collect some samples yourself, including saliva and semen. Your doctor may give you a sterile container. Others, particularly from body cavities, are collected by a doctor or nurse.
Fluids or secretions from the skin surface or mucous membranes, such as those lining the throat, are usually collected on sterile cotton swabs (see Having a throat swab taken). For fluids from body cavities or internal organs, the doctor uses a needle and syringe, sometimes with local anaes thesia.
Fluid samples are usually sent to a laboratory for analysis. They may be examined for infection or the cells may be separated and examined.
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