Lab Testing and Diagnostics | UC Davis Health

Lab Testing and Diagnostics

We offer routine blood and urine tests as well as highly specialized pathology services.

Medically reviewed by Nam Tran, Ph.D. on Aug. 29, 2023.

Male scientist using lab testing equipment

Advanced Laboratory Testing for Every Need

Lab testing is an essential part of diagnosing both common and complex health concerns. At UC Davis Health, our Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine provides comprehensive lab services for every situation. You’re in the hands of a world-class pathology team offering everything from routine blood work and urine tests to highly specialized biopsies and genetic tests.

Our Difference

Specialized Testing

We offer advanced tests in many specialty areas. Our specialized pathology and molecular testing services help us diagnose, stage and plan treatment for cancer. Our renal pathology team provides kidney biopsies for transplants and a wide range of other kidney diseases. This depth and breadth of expertise is unmatched in the region.

National Accreditation

All of our laboratories are accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP). CAP accreditation illustrates our commitment to the highest quality control and safety standards.

Leaders in Pathology Research and Education

We are among the top National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded academic pathology programs in the U.S. This distinction means we have the resources to perform groundbreaking research and share our findings with the next generation of lab scientists.


About Lab Testing and Diagnostics

When you think of lab testing, you might just think of the blood work you get at your annual checkup. But lab testing encompasses a much broader medical specialty called pathology.

Pathology is a branch of medicine focusing on the causes of medical problems. Pathologists evaluate blood, urine, saliva, stool and body tissue for signs of disease. They also prepare blood for medical treatments such as transfusions and stem cell transplants.

Every type of provider, from your primary care doctor to a specialist like an oncologist or gastroenterologist, works with pathologists to:

  • Screen and diagnose medical conditions
  • Monitor diseases
  • Plan treatment

There are thousands of lab tests available. The right tests for you will depend on many factors, including your symptoms, medical history, age and biological sex.

Common Lab Tests

Basic Metabolic Panel

A basic metabolic panel tests substances in your blood, including glucose (a type of sugar), electrolytes and certain metabolites that can help assess kidney problems or dehydration.

Cholesterol Test

A cholesterol test, or lipid profile, measures cholesterol and fat levels in your blood. Too much cholesterol in your blood means you may be at risk for heart disease, heart attack or stroke.

Complete Blood Count

A complete blood count (CBC) measures different components of your blood, including white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. A CBC is a very common test and often the first indicator of infections or diseases such as anemia and other blood disorders.

Kidney Function Test

This test checks your blood and urine for waste products that your kidneys should be removing from your body through urine. Abnormal results could indicate kidney disease.

Pap and HPV Test

Pap and human papillomavirus (HPV) tests are part of cervical cancer screening for women. Your provider takes a swab of cells from your cervix and a pathologist examines the sample for signs of disease. HPV testing is now moving towards being the primary method for screening for cervical cancer.

Thyroid Test

A thyroid test evaluates how well your thyroid, a gland in your neck that produces hormones, is functioning. The test can diagnose thyroid disorders such as hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).


This test is an evaluation of your urine. We may do a urinalysis to diagnose or monitor urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney problems and liver diseases.


Specialized Lab Testing

The pathology team at UC Davis Health offers a full range of specialized tests for complex conditions in addition to routine lab testing and biopsies.

Our Specialty Areas:


Apheresis is the process of removing blood components, such as platelets or white blood cells, and replacing them with healthy cells from a donor. We may use apheresis to treat leukemia, bleeding disorders and other conditions. At UC Davis Health, we are an official apheresis collection center for the Be the Match National Marrow Donor Program and one of only a few full-service apheresis units serving Northern California.


Our dermatopathology team evaluates an extensive range of skin conditions, including autoimmune skin diseases, uncommon oral mucosal diseases and skin cancers. In fact, our researchers led a study using a new technology to identify biomarkers (signs of disease) in early stage melanoma. Our work means we can diagnose skin diseases sooner, when treatment is more effective.

Molecular Pathology

Molecular pathologists study blood and tissue samples at the cellular level, looking for genetic mutations (abnormal gene changes). Molecular pathology is especially important in identifying certain cancers and inherited diseases, such as sickle cell disease. Identifying genetic mutations helps us make an accurate diagnosis, plan effective treatment and predict a prognosis.

Renal Pathology

UC Davis Health offers a full-service renal pathology diagnostic service. Renal pathologists focus on studying and diagnosing kidney diseases. We evaluate native and transplant kidney biopsies, providing an essential service for our nationally recognized kidney transplant program. UC Davis Health is consistently recognized as one of the highest-volume kidney transplant programs in the U.S., with patient outcomes and survival rates exceeding the national average.

Transfusion Medicine

Transfusion medicine is a medical specialty that focuses on collecting and testing blood from donors to give to people in critical need of blood. Our transfusion services are accredited by the Association of American Blood Banks. We support UC Davis Health’s level 1 trauma center (UC Davis Medical Center), the only one of its kind in inland Northern California, for both adult and pediatric emergencies.

Why Diagnostic Lab Testing Matters

Over 70% of medical decisions are based on a laboratory test. As such, the first step in effective treatment for any medical condition is getting an accurate diagnosis. In many cases, a diagnosis depends on lab testing.

Not only can lab testing identify why you’re not feeling your best, but it’s also a powerful tool for identifying your health risk factors, monitoring known medical conditions and planning your care. Even if you’re not experiencing symptoms of an illness, talk to your provider about the benefits of routine lab testing.

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Awards and Recognitions
USNWR Best Hospital badge

Ranked among the nation’s best hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best hospital in cancer, cardiology, heart & vascular surgery, diabetes & endocrinology, ENT, geriatrics, neurology & neurosurgery, orthopedics, and pulmonology & lung surgery.

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Ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best children’s hospital in diabetes & endocrinology, nephrology, and orthopedics*. (*Together with Shriners Children’s)

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USNWR best regional hospital badge

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital by U.S. News, and high-performing in back surgery, COPD, colon cancer surgery, gynecological cancer surgery, heart attack, heart failure, hip fracture, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, TAVR, and gastroenterology & GI surgery.

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The nation’s highest nursing honor

UC Davis Medical Center has received Magnet® recognition, the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence.

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“Most Wired” for acute care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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“Most Wired” for ambulatory care

UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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World-class cancer care

One of ~56 U.S. cancer centers designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

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A leader in health care equality

For the 13th consecutive year, UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized as an LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader by the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization.

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