Differential test

A differential test is a white blood cell analysis to diagnose an illness affecting the immune system

About

This test helps to assess your body's ability to respond to and fight infection. It determines the severity of allergic reactions and reactions to medications. It plays an important role in assessing your body's reactions to infections and chemotherapy. It can also help to identify leukaemia stages.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    Your consultant will take a blood sample from your arm. They will then take a drop of blood from your sample and smear it onto a glass slide. The smear is stained with a special dye, which helps tell the difference between various types of white blood cells. Five types of white blood cells normally appear in the blood. These are called neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils. A device counts the number of each type of cell in the sample. The test shows if the number of cells are in proportion with each other, and if there is more or less of one cell type.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Wear a loose fitting shirt or, ideally, a shirt with short sleeves so your arm is easily accessible for the blood test. You may need to avoid eating and/or drinking for up to 12 hours prior to your blood test. You may also need to stop certain medications. Speak to your consultant to discuss the details of how best to prepare for your test.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    There is no recovery time or side-effects associated with this test. You will be able to leave the hospital immediately afterwards and resume with your normal daily routine. You will need to have a follow-up appointment with your consultant to discuss the results.

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Request an appointment

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020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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