What is Haematology?

A haematologist is a specialist doctor who treats conditions affecting the blood, the bone marrow and the lymphatic system.

A haematology Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a Registered Nurse (RN) experienced in clinical haematology who has been educated at a Masters Level, and provides patient care in an advanced and extended clinical role.

Haematologists and haematology NPs treat both malignant and non-malignant disorders. They play an active role at every stage of caring for a patient, from their first visit to a clinic, through diagnosis and during treatment.

Central Coast Haematology cares for patients with diseases of the blood, blood-forming organs (bone marrow) and lymphatic system (part of the immune system).

You may be referred to a haematologist because you had a condition involving your red or white blood cells, platelets, blood vessels (thrombosis), bone marrow, lymph nodes or spleen.

Blood, lymphatics and bone marrow

Blood transports oxygen and nutrients to all cells in the body and is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Most of the blood cells are made in the bone marrow. 

Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to your tissues and bring carbon dioxide back to your lungs. Red blood cells make up almost half of your blood. White blood cells (leukocytes) fight infection and are an important part of your immune system. Platelets are small fragments of cells and help to control bleeding.

Plasma is the pale-yellow liquid part of your blood. Plasma helps move water, nutrients, minerals, medications, and hormones throughout your body. It also carries waste products to your kidneys. 

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue in the middle of certain bones (e.g. vertebrae, pelvis and sternum) and it makes most of the blood cells. The bone marrow contains a large number of immature stem cells that make all the blood cells in your body.

A bone marrow test (biopsy) is performed to diagnose and stage many blood diseases.  The bone marrow biopsy is almost always taken from the back of the pelvic bone where the iliac crest is readily and safely accessible. Further information about a bone marrow biopsy is available here: 

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue in the middle of certain bones (e.g. vertebrae, pelvis and sternum) and it makes most of the blood cells. The bone marrow contains a large number of immature stem cells that make all the blood cells in your body.

The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system and helps protect us from infection and disease. It is made up of a vast network of vessels, similar to blood vessels, that branch out into all the tissues of the body. 

It drains fluid (called lymph) that has leaked from blood vessels into the tissues and empties it back into the bloodstream via the lymph nodes. Lymph is a colourless watery fluid that carries lymphocytes, specialised white blood cells that fight infection. 

Lymph nodes are small bean-shaped organs that can be found throughout the body including your neck, armpits, chest, groin and abdomen. Lymph nodes contain large numbers of lymphocytes and are an important component of the  body’s defense system. They detect and destroy infectious agents, such as bacteria or viruses, and faulty cells, such as cancer cells. 

Other organs involved in the lymphatic system include the spleen and the thymus. The spleen filters and monitors your blood, stores lymphocytes, and destroys old or damaged red blood cells. The thymus also filters and monitors your blood and is where T-cells are matured.

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