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Blood is composed of cells and plasma (or serum), a liquid that is normally pale yellow in colour and transparent. Devices that analyze serum specimens (biochemistry tests) monitor three aspect of the serum: lipemia, icterus index and hemolysis index.

Lipemia is a measure of serum transparency. High levels of blood lipids, mostly triglycerides, increase serum turbidity. The lipemia result is expressed in “number of plus signs,” ranging from negative to four pluses (++++). Too high of a concentration of triglycerides in the serum (++++) can interfere with some laboratory tests, particularly the measurement of sodium levels. Some individuals have particularly high triglyceride levels after meals, and in some cases the triglycerides will remain present for more than 24 hours. To better understand what these results mean, see your triglyceride result.

Term of the Week

Predictive medicine

Medicine that links medical knowledge with data to predict a patient’s potential health problems. Examples include artificial intelligence and genetics.