This discipline involves the analysis of cells, blood and other body fluids for their chemical, biochemical and hormonal components. Biochemical tests are most often applied to samples of serum, plasma and urine where levels of specific chemicals are measured and the results compared with those representative of a healthy individual.
An increase or decrease in any particular component(s) can help to identify a disease process. Measurement of blood glucose (sugar) and lipids (fats) are among the commonly performed tests in the biochemistry laboratory. Panels of tests can be used to assess the function of major body organs such as the liver, kidneys and heart. Specialized assays are used to measure the levels of various hormones in the blood.
Such results are of value in the assessment of fertility and monitoring of in-vitro fertilization programs. Toxicology is a specialized branch of biochemistry and involves the measurement of drugs and toxins in body fluids. Those often tested for include alcohol, barbiturates and therapeutic drugs.