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Cytometry refers to the measurement of the physical and chemical characteristics of cells.

Flow cytometry is a technology in which a variety of measurements are made on cells, cell organelles, and other objects suspended in a liquid and flowing at rates of several thousand per second through a flow chamber. Flow sorting is an extension of this technology in which any single cell or object measured can be selectively removed from the suspension based on the measurements made.
(See a scheme).

A brief list of applications that use flow cytometers includes:

  • Disease diagnosis
  • Chromosome karyotyping
  • Cell function analysis
  • Cancer therapy monitoring
  • Detecting fetal cells
  • Cell kinetics
  • Identifying tumor cells
  • Cytogenetics
  • Fundamental cell biology