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Common Medical Laboratory Equipment Explored

written by: Swagatam •edited by: lrohner•updated: 5/18/2011

A medical laboratory is a critical area where many complex analyses and research are carried out concerning human health and conditions. Such vital assessments require high quality laboratory equipment. Learn about some of them in detail.

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    Common Medical Labware

    Laboratory equipment includes tools specifically designed for carrying out critical measurements, analyses, testing of the various parameters involved with human biological conditions and health factors. These are manufactured under strict scientific supervisions and thus maintain highest level of safety standards.Medical laboratory procedures heavily depend on various types of glassware or lab wares (as many of them are not made of glass but plastic) for checking and measuring critical fluid parameters.

    Let’s study the presence and utility of a few lab ware items:

    Beaker: These are broad-mouthed, parallel-sided containers with a short extended pouring spout end at its rim. They normally have embedded graduations for determining the volume of the contained liquids and fluids.Beaker, Image 

     

    Erlenmeyer flasks: These are typically flat bottomed with sloping slides. The basic shape is conical with a top terminating into a bottle neck shaped opening. They are available in ranges of 10 to 4000ml and used for holding and mixing liquids, solutions and for measuring less critical volumes through the markings printed on their side surface.Erlenmeyer Flask, Image 

    Florence Flask: It is a flat bottomed container with a bubble shaped body and a protruding bottle neck shaped top, having more or less same use as Erlenmeyer flask.Florence Flask, Image 

    Volumetric Flask: It has a pear-shaped body with a rather long bottle neck shaped top outlet. It is used for measuring the volume of fluids whose values require critical measurements.Volumetric Flask, Image 

    Graduated Cylinders: These are long, parallel straight-sided, transparent upright containers with calibrated graduations. Its chamfered base facilitates better standing stability. Measurement of fluid volumes done with it are normally non critical and typically used to store and monitor 24-hour urine specimens.Graduated Cylinder, Image 

    Pipets: Pipets are primarily used for measuring and transferring liquids. Basically they are classified in following two types:

    Volumetric Pipets: These are narrow long tubes with a uniform bulge at the center, broader opening at one end and tapering at the other end. They are used for holding and transferring critically accurate volumes of a particular liquid. The marking TD over them indicates they are capable of transferring a particular volume of liquid within a particular specified time limit.Volumetric Pipet, Image 

    Graduated Pipet: These are long slender tubes uniformly graduated throughout their entire length. Its one end is tapering and the other end terminates into a narrower neck opening. Usually they are TD marked and are used accommodate and transfer a particular volume of liquid in it as per the calibration. The serological pipet is one commonly used graduated type of pipet.Graduated Pipet, Image 

     

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    Important Laboratory Equipment (Devices)

    The various tools and articles used in a medical laboratory may harbor potentially harmful micro-organisms and need to be sterilized and disinfected. Keeping each and every material used in the laboratory perfectly sterilized is probably the most important practice that needs to be followed strictly.Normally chemicals are employed for this purpose, and they become important ingredients of the laboratory. However, sterilization through heat treatment is also recognized as the standard method. The following equipment are normally used for the purpose of equipment sterilization:

    Hot Air Oven: This is an electrically operated and thermostatically controlled device. The unit is a two-walled steel-chambered piece of equipment with sturdy doors. Appliances and articles to be sterilized are placed inside it and sterilized through a process of hot air convection

    Autoclave: An autoclave is made of heavy metal jackets specifically designed to sustain high pressures. Water inside it is boiled to create high steam pressure. Tools and lab wares to be sterilized are placed inside it and appropriately disinfected through the generation of pressurized hot steam flow.

    Other common important laboratory equipment used for various specific applications may include the following devices:

    Weighing scales or Balances: This instrument is used for finding out the weight of the various medical quantities that are relatively larger in dimension. If more accurate weighing or of smaller quantities are involved then normally an Analytical Balance is incorporated.

    Compound Microscope: A medical laboratory is incomplete without this very important and sophisticated device. Its basic function is to magnify the microscopic constituents of a human body specimen like blood, tissue and serum which enables exact verification of its biological conditions.

    Centrifuge, Image Centrifuge: A centrifuge machine is used to swiftly separate and sediment the molecular elements like cells that may be dispersed inside a fluid through a fast rotational movement. The process is called centrifugation. Its speed is represented in RPM or rotations per minute.More specifically a centrifuge is used for determining the volume of the packed cells of RBCs. Here, capillaries filled with blood samples are rotated at high speeds and finally the percentage of RBC is calculated.

    The list of common laboratory equipment for medical use can be huge and discussing all of them may fill volumes, definitely out of the scope of the present article, hopefully we’ll get to learn more of them later on through one of my future articles, if you have any doubts, feel free to comment (will need moderation and may take time to appear).

    Images: Drawn by Swagatam.

    References:

    Medical Laboratory Technology






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