RCPA Manual

Manual of Use and Interpretation of Pathology Tests

The main purpose of this Manual is to provide useful guidelines for the selection of pathology tests and to facilitate interpretation of results.

The Manual consists of several sections:

  • Pathology Tests
  • Clinical Presentations and Diagnosis

Pathology Tests

The test listing includes the majority of routinely requested tests available to the clinician.

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Clinical Presentations and Diagnoses

This section presents pathology tests in the context of patient presentations and suspect diagnoses which give rise to the need for diagnostic information.

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The RCPA wishes to acknowledge the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care for their generous support of the RCPA Manual. ISSN 1449-8219

RCPA Manual 8th edition

Editors: Dr John Burnett (Chair), Dr Rob Baird, Dr John Giannoutsos, Dr David Gillis, Dr Diane Kenwright, Dr David Roxby, Dr Nelson Tang, Dr Amanda Hooper, Dr Anthony Cheong,

Acknowledgements: Prof Jane Dahlstrom, Dr Adrian Charles, Prof David J Handelsman, A/Prof Damon Bell, Dr Peter O’Leary, Mr Lawrence Greed, Prof Andrew Lloyd, Dr Sarah Parsons, Ms Nicole Bain, Mrs Corrina Cliffe, Dr Helen Wordsworth, Dr Emmanuel Favaloro, Susan Oliver, Dr Stephanie Anderson, Dr Caroline Dix, Dr Nick Bingham, Dr Nora Lee, Dr Kristen Estabrooks, Dr Jenna Langfield, A/Prof Janine Campbell, Dr Lucy Fox, Dr Danielle Clucas, Dr Briony Cutts, Dr Tina Noutsos, Dr Jason Conn, Dr Giles Kelsey.
Ms Marion Higginson, Ms Linda Vinski, Ms Vanessa White, Dr Niina Tujula, Ms Lynda Richardson, Ms Vanessa Cameron.

The RCPA wishes to acknowledge the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care for their generous support of the RCPA Manual 8th edition.

RCPA Manual 7th edition

Editors: Prof Brett Delahunt (Chair), Dr Rob Baird, Dr John Burnett, Dr David Gillis, Dr Diane Kenwright, Dr Zoe McQuilten, Dr Nelson Tang, Dr Bronwen Ross.

Acknowledgements: A/Prof Damon Bell, A/Prof Kevin Carpenter, A/Prof Merrole Cole-Sinclair, Dr Gemma Crighton, Ms Margaret Dimech, Dr Joan Faoagali, Dr Dimitri Gerostamoulos, Dr Paul Glendenning, Dr Narelle Hadlow, Ms Sarah Halawani, Ms Marion Higginson, Dr Zane Kaplan, Dr Richard MacKay, Dr Colin MacLeod, Ms Lauren Moir, Ms Donna Moore, Ms Belinda Neill, Dr Stella Pendle, Dr Tse-Chieh Teh, Dr Samuel Vasikaran, Ms Linda Vinski, Ms Vanessa White, A/Prof Bing Yu.

The RCPA wishes to acknowledge the Australian Government Department of Health for their generous support of the RCPA Manual 7th edition.

RCPA Manual 6th edition

Editors: Prof Brett Delahunt (Chair), Dr John Burnett, Dr Benedict Carnley, Dr David Gillis, Dr Nelson Tang, Dr Gillian Wood, Dr Bronwen Ross

PDST Authors: Dr Paul Glendenning, Dr Samuel Vasikaran, Dr David Gillis, Dr Narelle Hadlow, Dr Penelope Coates, Dr Claire Dendle, Dr Maryza Graham, A/Prof Christopher Florkowski, Prof Kris Barlow-Stewart, Dr Graham Jones, Dr Robert Norton, Dr Joan Faoagali, Dr Lisa-Ann Koe, Dr Gillian Wood, Prof Frank Bowling, Dr Vanessa Clifford, Dr Katherine Nicholls, Dr Anja Werno, Dr Ee Mun Lim, A/Prof Huy Tran, Dr Chiyan Lau, A/Prof David Sullivan, Dr Rosemary Miller, Dr Kenneth Sikaris, Dr John Duley, Dr Melissa Gillett, Dr Alan McNeil, Prof William Rawlinson and Dr Louise McCormack.

Acknowledgements: Dr Lisa Parker.

The RCPA wishes to acknowledge the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing for their generous support for the update and transforming of the RCPA Manual.

RCPA Manual 5th edition

Editors: Prof Brett Delahunt (Chair), Dr John Burnett, Dr Benedict Carnley, Dr David Gillis, Dr Nelson Tang, Dr Gillian Wood, Dr Tamsin Waterhouse.

RCPA Manual 4th edition

Authors: Prof Brett Delahunt, Prof Peter George, Dr David Gillis, Dr Debra Graves, Dr Michael Harvey, Dr Christine Johnson, Mr Andrey Zheluk, Dr Diane N Kenwright, Dr Peter Bethwaite, Dr Harold J Neal, Dr Alexa M J Kidd, Dr Jeremy Touhy, Dr Emmanuel J Favaloro, Dr Elizabeth Todorova, Dr Elizabeth Bernal-Hoyos, Dr Lucinda Wallman, Dr David Mitchell.

Acknowledgements: Dr David Smith, Dr Gary Lum, Ms Belinda Neil, Ms Maddeson Lavers, Mr Roman Danylak, Ms Rebecca Havey, Ms Lara McLaughlin, Mr Abishek Kumar, Ms Susan Mildenhall, Mr Peter Youll.

The RCPA wishes to acknowledge the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing for their generous support of the RCPA Manual 4th edition.

Acknowledgement for previous editions of RCPA Manual

The concept of producing a manual to guide clinicians in the use and interpretation of pathology tests originated with Professor Ernest Finckh during his time as President of the College (1979-1981). Professor David Thomas was responsible for the initial work done to translate the concept into reality and was co-editor of the first edition. Dr Eva Raik, as Honorary Secretary (1981-1986) and as Vice President/President (1991-1997) has provided support and, at times, much-needed encouragement throughout. The task has been actively supported by Council through almost two decades. Dr Jack Hamer (President 1997-1999) and the immediate past President, Professor David Davies actively supported the production of a third edition.

The College remains indebted to previous Editors, for their assistance in a difficult process and their commitment to the principles underlying this publication. Dr Jean McPherson, Dr Vera Stoermer, Dr Alan Clague, Dr Virginia Billson, Dr David Gillis, Dr Christine Johnson and Dr Mark Pilbeam, as past and/or present members of the Board of Education, have contributed to both the second edition and to the third edition. Dr Wendy Erber, Dr Ross Bradbury and A/Professor Ron Walls, and Professor Ron Trent and Dr Yiu-Lam Kwan were also contributors to the second edition.

Professor Stephen Cordner provided the section on the autopsy. Dr Allan Lloyd and Dr Michael Gribble contributed to the section on the reliability of test results. Written material, editorial comment and/or advice over the previous three editions was provided by a number of other colleagues. These individuals are listed below and are thanked for their contributions:

Dr Bentley Atcheson, Dr Gordon Baker, Dr Paul Bedford, A/Prof Thomas Boogert, Dr Michael Boyle, Ms Joan Brick, Dr Nigel Brown, Dr Ian Chambers, Mr Gary Clarke, Dr Peter Coleman, Ms Margaret Collecutt, Prof David Davies, A/Prof Olaf Drummer, Dr Geoffrey Forbes, A/Prof Margaret O Garson, Dr Maree Gleeson, Ms Irene Goodhew, Dr Michael Gribble, Dr Michael Guerin, Dr Leigh Hammond, Dr Gary Hoffman, Ms Linda Hueston, Ms Rebecca Jansma, Prof Geoffrey Kellerman, Mr John Lowan, A/Prof James McCluskey, Dr Richard McMullin, Dr Gabrielle Medley, Dr Matthew Meerkin, Dr Cliff Meldrum, Dr Howard Morris, Dr Nick Mulvany, Dr Stan Pilbeam, Dr Joanne Pink, Dr Bob Pritchard, Dr Eva Raik, A/Prof William Rawlinson, Dr Glen Reeves, A/Prof Peter Roberts-Thompson, Dr Arabella Smith, Ms Greta Spall, A/Prof Alison Street, Dr Graeme Suthers, Dr Amanda Thomson, A/Prof John Turnidge, Dr Philip Tynan, Dr Dakshesh Vakil, Prof John Vince, Dr David Williams and Ms Norma Worswick.

The technical infrastructure and design were developed by Hothouse Interactive. The RCPA wishes to acknowledge the contribution of Mr Simon Monk, Mr Simon Van Wyk and Mr Chris Noble.

The clinical algorithms were developed by the University of Sydney Department of Medical Education. The RCPA wishes to acknowledge the contribution of Dr Greg Ryan, Dr Tim Shaw, Dr Stewart Barnet and Mr Conor McCormick.

Foreword: Seventh edition, 2015

It is now 25 years since the publication of the first edition of ‘The Manual of Use and Interpretation of Laboratory Tests’ (popularly known as ‘The Manual’).  Developed as a tool to provide guidelines for laboratory testing and interpretation of results, the first edition, published in 1990, was enthusiastically embraced.  The Manual, now in its seventh edition, has become a flagship publication of The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia.
The first three editions of The Manual appeared in a printed format; however, the demand for an electronic version resulted in the third edition being released as a CD ROM in 2001.  The fourth edition of The Manual was produced as an on-line version in 2004. Since then the publication has been regularly updated through two further editions, with the sixth edition being produced in 2010 and released in 2011.  An innovation added to The Manual in the sixth edition was the Pathology Decision Support Tools that provide relevant clinical examples and are designed to inform clinical decision making.
During the 25 year history of The Manual, the College has received generous support from the Australian Government Department of Health and its predecessor.  This support was again renewed in 2014 with the objective of upgrading The Manual and the publication of a seventh edition.  To achieve this, the College assembled a group of representatives of the subspecialties of Pathology from Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.  Each of these subdiscipline coordinators developed advisory teams responsible for the review of the suite of tests relative to their areas of specific expertise.
During this process the text was completely reviewed and updates and/or additional materials were incorporated into many of the Clinical Problems and Pathology Tests.  In particular the seventh edition of The Manual reflects the increasing role of molecular medicine in contemporary pathology practice.
It is widely acknowledged that The Manual is an indispensable aid, not only for pathologists, but for clinicians of all disciplines, specialists in training, junior medical officers and medical students.  Evidence for this may be derived from usage statistics for The Manual website, with a recent analysis showing 6,419 unique visitors, 10,793 active sessions and 34,233 page views monthly.

Professor Brett Delahunt, Chairman, RCPA Manual Editorial Board

Dr Debra Graves, Chief Executive Officer, Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia

The RCPA Manual is electronically available via the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia website. Printed editions are no longer available.

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia ABN 52 000 173 231
ISSN 1449-8219
Durham Hall, 207 Albion Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010 Australia

First edition published 1990
Reprinted 1992
Second edition published 1997
Third edition published 2001
Fourth edition published 2004
Fifth edition published 2009
Sixth edition published 2010
Seventh edition published 2015

Copyright ©2015 RCPA. All rights reserved.

2024 Feb

Pathology Test

example 1


Clinical Presentations and Diagnoses

example 2


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Copyright © 2023 RCPA. All rights reserved.