Lipase Tests: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a lipase test?

Lipase is a type of protein made by your pancreas, an organ located near your stomach. Lipase helps your body digest fats. It’s normal to have a small amount of lipase in your blood. But, a high level of lipase can mean you have pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, or another type of pancreas disease. Blood tests are the most common way of measuring lipase.

Other names: serum lipase, lipase, LPS

What is it used for?

A lipase test may be used to:

  • Diagnose pancreatitis or another disease of the pancreas
  • Find out if there is a blockage in your pancreas
  • Check for chronic diseases that affect the pancreas, including cystic fibrosis

Why do I need a lipase test?

You may need a lipase test if you have symptoms of a pancreas disease. These include:

You may also need a lipase test if you certain risk factors for pancreatitis. These include:

You may also be at a higher risk if you are a smoker or heavy alcohol user.

What happens during a lipase test?

A lipase test is usually in the form of a blood test. During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Lipase can also be measured in urine. Usually, a lipase urine test can be taken at any time of day, with no special preparation needed.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You may need to fast (not eat or drink) for 8–12 hours before a lipase blood test. If your health care provider has ordered a lipase urine test, be sure to ask if you need to follow any special instructions.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

There are no known risks to a urine test.

What do the results mean?

A high level of lipase may indicate:

A low level of lipase may mean there is damage to cells in the pancreas that make lipase. This happens in certain chronic diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

If your lipase levels are not normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Certain medicines, including codeine and birth control pills, can affect your lipase results. If you have questions about your lipase test results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a lipase test?

A lipase test is commonly used to diagnose pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Acute pancreatitis is a short-term condition that usually goes away after a few days of treatment. Chronic pancreatitis is a long-lasting condition that gets worse over time. But it can be managed with medicine and lifestyle changes, such as quitting drinking. Your health care provider may also recommend surgery to repair the problem in your pancreas.

References

  1. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth’s Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Lipase, Serum; 358 p.
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine [Internet]. Johns Hopkins Medicine; Health Library: Chronic Pancreatitis [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/digestive_disorders/chronic_pancreatitis_22,chronicpancreatitis
  3. Junglee D, Penketh A, Katrak A, Hodson ME, Batten JC, Dandona P. Serum pancreatic lipase activity in cystic fibrosis. Br Med J [Internet]. 1983 May 28 [cited 2017 Dec 16]; 286(6379):1693–4. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1548188/pdf/bmjcred00555-0017.pdf
  4. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.; American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Lipase [updated 2018 Jan 15; cited 2018 Feb 20]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/lipase
  5. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.; American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Glossary: Random Urine Sample [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/glossary#r
  6. Mayo Clinic: Mayo Medical Laboratories [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1995–2017. Test ID: FLIPR: Lipase, Random Urine: Specimen [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Specimen/90347
  7. National Cancer Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms: pancreas [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms?cdrid=46254
  8. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests [cited 2018 Feb 20]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  9. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Definitions & Facts for Pancreatitis; 2017 Nov [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/pancreatitis/definition-facts
  10. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Treatment for Pancreatitis; 2017 Nov [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/pancreatitis/treatment
  11. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Lipase [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=lipase
  12. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Microscopic Urinalysis [cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=urinanalysis_microscopic_exam
  13. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lipase: Test Overview [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lipase/hw7976.html
  14. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2017. Health Information: Lipase: Why It Is Done [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2017 Dec 16]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/lipase/hw7976.html#hw7984

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Whooping Cough Diagnosis: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a whooping cough test?

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a bacterial infection that causes severe fits of coughing and trouble breathing. People with whooping cough sometimes make a “whooping” sound as they try to take a breath. Whooping cough is very contagious. It is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing.

You can get whooping cough at any age, but it mostly affects children. It’s especially serious, and sometimes deadly, for babies less than a year old. A whooping cough test can help diagnose the disease. If your child gets a whooping cough diagnosis, he or she may be able to get treatment to prevent severe complications.

The best way to protect against whooping cough is with vaccination.

Other names: pertussis test, bordetella pertussis culture, PCR, antibodies (IgA, IgG, IgM)

What is the test used for?

A whooping cough test is used to find out whether you or your child has whooping cough. Getting diagnosed and treated in the early stages of infection may make your symptoms less severe and help prevent the spread of the disease.

Why do I need a whooping cough test?

Your health care provider may order a whooping cough test if you or your child has symptoms of whooping cough. You or your child may also need a test if you’ve been exposed to someone who has whooping cough.

Symptoms of whooping cough usually occur in three stages. In the first stage, symptoms are like those of a common cold and may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild fever
  • Mild cough

It’s better to get tested in the first stage, when the infection is most treatable.

In the second stage, the symptoms are more serious and may include:

  • Severe coughing that’s hard to control
  • Trouble catching your breath when coughing, which may cause a “whooping” sound
  • Coughing so hard it causes vomiting

In the second stage, infants may not cough at all. But they may struggle to breathe or may even stop breathing at times.

In the third stage, you will start to feel better. You may still be coughing, but it will probably be less often and less severe.

What happens during a whooping cough test?

There are different ways to test for whooping cough. Your health care provider may choose one of the following ways to make a whooping cough diagnosis.

  • Nasal aspirate. Your health care provider will inject a saline solution into your nose, then remove the sample with gentle suction.
  • Swab test. Your health care provider will use a special swab to take a sample from your nose or throat.
  • A blood test. During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes. Blood tests are used more often in later stages of whooping cough.

In addition, your health care provider may order an x-ray to check for inflammation or fluid in the lungs.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for a whooping cough test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a whooping cough test.

Are there any risks to the tests?

There is very little risk to whooping cough tests.

  • The nasal aspirate may feel uncomfortable. These effects are temporary.
  • For a swab test, you may feel a gagging sensation or even a tickle when your throat or nose is swabbed.
  • For a blood test, you may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

A positive result probably means you or your child has whooping cough. A negative result doesn’t completely rule out whooping cough. If your results are negative, your health care provider will probably order more tests to confirm or rule out a whooping cough diagnosis.

Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics can make your infection less serious if you start treatment before your cough gets really bad. Treatment may also help prevent you from spreading the disease to others.

If you have questions about your test results or treatment, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about whooping cough tests?

The best way to protect against whooping cough is with vaccination. Before whooping cough vaccines became available in the 1940s, thousands of children in the United States died from the disease every year. Today, deaths from whooping cough are rare, but as many as 40,000 Americans get sick with it every year. Most cases of whooping cough affect babies too young to be vaccinated or teens and adults who are not vaccinated or up to date on their vaccines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination for all babies and children, teens, pregnant women, and adults who have not been vaccinated or are not up to date on their vaccines. Check with your health care provider to see if you or child needs to be vaccinated.

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C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a c-reactive protein (CRP) test?

A c-reactive protein test measures the level of c-reactive protein (CRP) in your blood. CRP is a protein made by your liver. It’s sent into your bloodstream in response to inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s way of protecting your tissues if you’ve been injured or have an infection. It can cause pain, redness, and swelling in the injured or affected area. Some autoimmune disorders and chronic diseases can also cause inflammation.

Normally, you have low levels of c-reactive protein in your blood. High levels may be sign of a serious infection or other disorder.

Other names: c-reactive protein, serum

What is it used for?

A CRP test may be used to find or monitor conditions that cause inflammation. These include:

Why do I need a CRP test?

You may need this test if you have symptoms of a serious bacterial infection. Symptoms include:

If you’ve already been diagnosed with an infection or have a chronic disease, this test may be used to monitor your treatment. CRP levels rise and fall depending on how much inflammation you have. If your CRP levels go down, it’s a sign that your treatment for inflammation is working.

What happens during a CRP test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This process usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a CRP test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

If your results show a high level of CRP, it probably means you have some type of inflammation in your body. A CRP test doesn’t explain the cause or location of the inflammation. So if your results are not normal, your health care provider may order more tests to figure out why you have inflammation.

A higher than normal CRP level does not necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. There are other factors that can raise your CRP levels. These include cigarette smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise.

If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a CRP test?

A CRP test is sometimes confused with a high-sensitivity-(hs) CRP test. Although they both measure CRP, they are used to diagnose different conditions. An hs-CRP test measures much lower levels of CRP. It is used to check for risk of heart disease.

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Breast Biopsy: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a breast biopsy?

A breast biopsy is a procedure that removes a small sample of breast tissue for testing. The tissue is looked at under a microscope to check for breast cancer. There are different ways to do a breast biopsy procedure. One method uses a special needle to remove tissue. Another method removes tissue in a minor, outpatient surgery.

A breast biopsy can determine whether you have breast cancer. But most women who have a breast biopsy do not have cancer.

Other names: core needle biopsy; core biopsy, breast; fine-needle aspiration; open surgery biopsy

What is it used for?

A breast biopsy is used to confirm or rule out breast cancer. It is done after other breast tests, such as a mammogram, or a physical breast exam, show there might be a chance of breast cancer.

Why do I need a breast biopsy?

You may need a breast biopsy if:

  • You or your health care provider felt a lump in your breast
  • Your mammogram, MRI, or ultrasound tests show a lump, shadow, or other area of concern
  • You have changes in your nipple, such as bloody discharge

If your health care provider has ordered a breast biopsy, it does not necessarily mean you have breast cancer. The majority of breast lumps that are tested are benign, which means noncancerous.

What happens during a breast biopsy?

There are three main types of breast biopsy procedures:

  • Fine needle aspiration biopsy, which uses a very thin needle to remove a sample of breast cells or fluid
  • Core needle biopsy, which uses a larger needle to remove a sample
  • Surgical biopsy, which removes a sample in a minor, outpatient procedure

Fine needle aspiration and core needle biopsies usually include the following steps.

  • You will lay on your side or sit on an exam table.
  • A health care provider will clean the biopsy site and inject it with an anesthetic, so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure.
  • Once the area is numb, the provider will insert either a fine aspiration needle or core biopsy needle into the biopsy site and remove a sample of tissue or fluid.
  • You may feel a little pressure when the sample is withdrawn.
  • Pressure will be applied to the biopsy site until the bleeding stops.
  • Your provider will apply a sterile bandage at the biopsy site.

In a surgical biopsy, a surgeon will make a small cut in your skin to remove all or part of a breast lump. A surgical biopsy is sometimes done if the lump can’t be reached with a needle biopsy. Surgical biopsies usually include the following steps.

  • You will lie on an operating table. An IV (intravenous line) may be placed in your arm or hand.
  • You may be given medicine, called a sedative, to help you relax.
  • You will be given local or general anesthesia, so you won’t feel pain during the procedure.
    • For local anesthesia, a health care provider will inject the biopsy site with medicine to numb the area.
    • For general anesthesia, a specialist called an anesthesiologist will give you medicine, so you will be unconscious during the procedure.
  • the biopsy area is numb or you are unconscious, the surgeon will make a small cut into the breast and remove part or all of a lump. Some tissue around the lump may also be removed.
  • The cut in your skin will be closed with stitches or adhesive strips.

The type of biopsy you have will depend on different factors, including the size of the lump and what the lump or area of concern looks like on a breast test.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You won’t need any special preparations if you are getting local anesthesia (numbing of the biopsy site). If you are getting general anesthesia, you will probably need to fast (not eat or drink) for several hours before surgery. Your surgeon will give you more specific instructions. Also, if you are getting a sedative or general anesthesia, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home. You may be groggy and confused after you wake up from the procedure.

Are there any risks to the test?

You may have a little bruising or bleeding at the biopsy site. Sometimes the site gets infected. If that happens, you will be treated with antibiotics. A surgical biopsy may cause some additional pain and discomfort. Your health care provider may recommend or prescribe medicine to help you feel better.

What do the results mean?

It may take several days to a week to get your results. Typical results may show:

  • Normal. No cancer or abnormal cells were found.
  • Abnormal, but benign. These show breast changes that are not cancer. These include calcium deposits and cysts. Sometimes more testing and/or follow-up treatment may be needed.
  • Cancer cells found. Your results will include information about the cancer to help you and your health care provider develop a treatment plan that best meets your needs. You will probably be referred to a provider who specializes in breast cancer treatment.

Is there anything else I need to know about a breast biopsy?

In the United States, tens of thousands of women and hundreds of men die of breast cancer every year. A breast biopsy, when appropriate, can help find breast cancer at an early stage, when it’s most treatable. If breast cancer is found early, when it is confined to the breast only, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent. This means, on average, that 99 out of 100 people with breast cancer that was detected early are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed. If you have questions about breast cancer screening, such as mammograms or a breast biopsy, talk to your health care provider.

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Blood Alcohol Level: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a blood alcohol test?

A blood alcohol test measures the level of Alcohol in your blood. Most people are more familiar with the breathalyzer, a test often used by police officers on people suspected of drunk driving. While a breathalyzer gives fast results, it is not as accurate as measuring alcohol in the blood.

Alcohol, also known as ethanol, is the main ingredient of alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine, and liquor. When you have an alcoholic drink, it is absorbed into your bloodstream and processed by the liver. Your liver can process about one drink an hour. One drink is usually defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of whiskey.

If you are drinking faster than your liver can process the alcohol, you may feel the effects of drunkenness, also called intoxication. These include behavioral changes and impaired judgment. The effects of alcohol can vary from person to person, depending on a variety of factors such as age, weight, gender, and how much food you ate before drinking.

Other names: blood alcohol level test, ethanol test, ethyl alcohol, blood alcohol content

What is it used for?

A blood alcohol test may be used to find out if you:

  • Have been drinking and driving. In the United States, .08 percent blood alcohol level is the legal alcohol limit for drivers who are aged 21 and over. Drivers younger than 21 are not allowed to have any alcohol in their system when driving.
  • Are legally drunk. The legal alcohol limit for drinking in public varies from state to state.
  • Have been drinking while in a treatment program that prohibits drinking.
  • Have alcohol poisoning, a life-threatening condition that happens when your blood alcohol level gets very high. Alcohol poisoning can seriously affect basic body functions, including breathing, heart rate, and temperature.

Teens and young adults are at higher risk for binge drinking, which can cause alcohol poisoning. Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that raises the blood alcohol level within a short period of time. Though it varies from person to person, binge drinking is usually defined as four drinks for women and five drinks for men in a two-hour period.

Young children may get alcohol poisoning from drinking household products that contain alcohol, such as mouthwash, hand sanitizer, and certain cold medicines.

Why do I need a blood alcohol test?

You may need a blood alcohol test if you are suspected of drunk driving and/or have symptoms of intoxication. These include:

  • Difficulty with balance and coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mood changes
  • Poor judgment

You or your child may also need this test if there are symptoms of alcohol poisoning. In addition to the above symptoms, alcohol poisoning can cause:

  • Confusion
  • Irregular breathing
  • Seizures
  • Low body temperature

What happens during a blood alcohol test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This process usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a blood alcohol test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

Blood alcohol level results may be given in different ways, including percentage of blood alcohol content (BAC). Typical results are below.

  • Sober: 0.0 percent BAC
  • Legally intoxicated: .08 percent BAC
  • Very impaired: .08–0.40 percent BAC. At this blood alcohol level, you may have difficulty walking and speaking. Other symptoms may include confusion, nausea, and drowsiness.
  • At risk for serious complications: Above .40 percent BAC. At this blood alcohol level, you may be at risk for coma or death.

The timing of this test can affect the accuracy of the results. A blood alcohol test is only accurate within 6–12 hours after your last drink. If you have questions or concerns about your results, you may want to talk to a health care provider and/or a lawyer.

Is there anything else I need to know about a blood alcohol test?

A police officer may ask you to take a breathalyzer test if you are suspected of drunk driving. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer, or think the test wasn’t accurate, you may ask for or be asked to take a blood alcohol test.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Alcohol and Public Health: Frequently Asked Questions [updated 2017 Jun 8; cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm
  2. ClinLab Navigator [Internet]. ClinLab Navigator; c2018. Alcohol (Ethanol, Ethyl Alcohol) [cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: http://www.clinlabnavigator.com/alcohol-ethanol-ethyl-alcohol.html
  3. Drugs.com [Internet]. Drugs.com; c2000–2018. Alcohol Intoxication [updated 2018 Mar 1; cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.drugs.com/cg/alcohol-intoxication.html
  4. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth’s Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Ethyl Alcohol Levels (Blood, Urine, Breath, Saliva) (Alcohol, EtOH); 278 p.
  5. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Ethanol [updated 2018 Mar 8; cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/ethanol
  6. Mayo Clinic: Mayo Medical Laboratories [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1995–2018. Test ID: ALC: Ethanol, Blood: Clinical and Interpretive [cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/8264
  7. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Alcohol Overdose: The Dangers of Drinking Too Much; 2015 October [cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AlcoholOverdoseFactsheet/Overdosefact.htm
  8. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Drinking Levels Defined [cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking
  9. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests [cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  10. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Ethanol (Blood) [cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=ethanol_blood
  11. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Blood Alcohol: Results [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 8 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/blood-alcohol-test/hw3564.html#hw3588
  12. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Blood Alcohol: Test Overview [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/blood-alcohol-test/hw3564.html
  13. TEUW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Blood Alcohol: What To Think About [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 10 screens].XT Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/blood-alcohol-test/hw3564.html#hw3598
  14. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Blood Alcohol: Why It is Done [updated 2017 Oct 9; cited 2018 Mar 8]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/blood-alcohol-test/hw3564.html#hw3573

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C-Peptide Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a C-peptide test?

This test measures the level of C-peptide in your blood or urine. C-peptide is a substance made in the pancreas, along with insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls the body’s glucose (blood sugar) levels. Glucose is your body’s main source of energy. If your body doesn’t make the right amount of insulin, it may be a sign of diabetes.

C-peptide and insulin are released from the pancreas at the same time and in about equal amounts. So a C-peptide test can show how much insulin your body is making. This test can be a good way to measure insulin levels because C-peptide tends to stay in the body longer than insulin.

Other names: insulin C-peptide, connecting peptide insulin, proinsulin C-peptide

What is it used for?

A C-peptide test is often used to help tell the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. With type 1 diabetes, your pancreas makes little to no insulin, and little or no C-peptide. With type 2 diabetes, the body makes insulin, but doesn’t use it well. This can cause C-peptide levels to be higher than normal.

The test may also be used to:

Why do I need a C-peptide test?

You may need a C-peptide test if your health care provider thinks you have diabetes, but is unsure whether it is type 1 or type 2. You may also need a C-peptide test if you have symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Symptoms include:

What happens during a C-peptide test?

A C-peptide test is usually given as a blood test. During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

C-peptide can also be measured in urine. Your health care provider may ask you to collect all urine passed in a 24-hour period. This is called a 24-hour urine sample test. For this test, your health care provider or a laboratory professional will give a container in which to collect your urine and instructions on how to collect and store your samples. A 24-hour urine sample test generally includes the following steps:

  • Empty your bladder in the morning and flush that urine away. Record the time.
  • For the next 24 hours, save all your urine passed in the container provided.
  • Store your urine container in the refrigerator or a cooler with ice.
  • Return the sample container to your health provider’s office or the laboratory as instructed.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You may need to fast (not eat or drink) for 8–12 hours before a C-peptide blood test. If your health care provider has ordered a C-peptide urine test, be sure to ask if there are any specific instructions you need to follow.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

There are no known risks to a urine test.

What do the results mean?

A low level of C-peptide can mean your body isn’t making enough insulin. It may be a sign of one of the following conditions:

It may also be a sign that your diabetes treatment is not working well.

A high level of C-peptide can mean your body is making too much insulin. It may be a sign of one of the following conditions:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin resistance, a condition in which the body doesn’t respond the right way to insulin. It causes the body to make too much insulin, raising your blood sugar to very high levels.
  • Cushing’s syndrome, a disorder in which your body makes too much of a hormone called cortisol.
  • A tumor of the pancreas

If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a C-peptide test?

A C-peptide test can provide important information about the type of diabetes you have and whether or not your diabetes treatment is working well. But it is not used to diagnose diabetes. Other tests, such as blood glucose and urine glucose, are used to screen and diagnose diabetes.

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Syphilis Tests: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What are syphilis tests?

Syphilis is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It is a bacterial infection spread through vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected person. Syphilis develops in stages that can last for weeks, months, or even years. The stages may be separated by long periods of apparent good health.

Syphilis usually starts with a small, painless sore, called a chancre, on the genitals, anus, or mouth. In the next stage, you may have flu-like symptoms and/or a rash. Later stages of syphilis can damage the brain, heart, spinal cord, and other organs. Syphilis tests can help diagnose syphilis in the early stages of infection, when the disease is easiest to treat.

Other names: rapid plasma reagin (RPR), venereal disease Research laboratory (VDRL), fluorescent treponemal antibody absorption (FTA-ABS) test, agglutination assay (TPPA), darkfield microscopy

What are they used for?

Syphilis tests are used to screen for and diagnose syphilis.

Screening tests for syphilis include:

  • Rapid plasma reagin (RPR), a syphilis blood test that looks for antibodies to the syphilis bacteria. Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to fight foreign substances, such as bacteria.
  • Venereal disease research laboratory (VDRL) test, which also checks for syphilis antibodies. A VDRL test can be done on blood or spinal fluid.

If a screening test comes back positive, you will need more testing to rule out or confirm a syphilis diagnosis. Most of these follow up tests will also look for syphilis antibodies. Sometimes, a healthcare provider will use a test that looks for actual syphilis bacteria, instead of the antibodies. Tests that look for the actual bacteria are used less often because they can only be done in specialized labs by specially trained health care professionals.

Why do I need a syphilis test?

You may need a syphilis test if your sexual partner has been diagnosed with syphilis and/or you have symptoms of the disease. Symptoms usually appear about two to three weeks after infection and include:

  • Small, painless sore (chancre) on the genitals, anus, or mouth
  • Rough, red rash, usually on the palms of the hands or the bottom of the feet
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Swollen glands
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss

Even if you don’t have symptoms, you may need a test if you are at a higher risk of infection. Risk factors include having:

  • Multiple sex partners
  • A partner with multiple sex partners
  • Unprotected sex (sex without using a condom)
  • An HIV/AIDS infection
  • Another sexually transmitted disease, such as gonorrhea

You may also need this test if you are pregnant. Syphilis can be passed from a mother to her unborn baby. A syphilis infection can cause serious, and sometimes deadly, complications to infants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all pregnant women get tested early in pregnancy. Women who have risk factors for syphilis should be tested again in the third trimester of pregnancy (28–32 weeks) and again at delivery.

What happens during a syphilis test?

A syphilis test is usually in the form of a blood test. During a syphilis blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

More advanced stages of syphilis can affect the brain and spinal cord. If your symptoms show your disease might be in a more advanced stage, your health care provider may order a syphilis test on your cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF is a clear liquid found in your brain and spinal cord.

For this test, your CSF will be collected through a procedure called a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap. During the procedure:

  • You will lie on your side or sit on an exam table.
  • A health care provider will clean your back and inject an anesthetic into your skin, so you won’t feel pain during the procedure. Your provider may put a numbing cream on your back before this injection.
  • Once the area on your back is completely numb, your provider will insert a thin, hollow needle between two vertebrae in your lower spine. Vertebrae are the small backbones that make up your spine.
  • Your provider will withdraw a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for testing. This will take about five minutes.
  • You’ll need to stay very still while the fluid is being withdrawn.
  • Your provider may ask you to lie on your back for an hour or two after the procedure. This may prevent you from getting a headache afterward.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a syphilis blood test. For a lumbar puncture, you may be asked to empty your bladder and bowels before the test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.

What do the results mean?

If your screening results were negative or normal, it means no syphilis infection was found. Since antibodies can take a couple of weeks to develop in response to a bacterial infection, you may need another screening test if you think you were exposed to the infection. Ask your health care provider about when or if you need to be re-tested.

If your screening tests show a positive result, you will have more testing to rule out or confirm a syphilis diagnosis. If these tests confirm you have syphilis, you will probably be treated with penicillin, a type of antibiotic. Most early-stage syphilis infections are completely cured after antibiotic treatment. Later-stage syphilis is also treated with antibiotics. Antibiotic treatment for later-stage infections can stop the disease from getting worse, but it can’t undo damage already done.

If you have questions about your results, or about syphilis, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about syphilis tests?

If you are diagnosed with syphilis, you need to tell your sexual partner, so he or she can get tested and treated if necessary.

References

  1. American Pregnancy Association [Internet]. Irving (TX): American Pregnancy Association; c2018. Syphilis [updated 2018 Feb 7; cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: http://americanpregnancy.org/womens-health/syphilis
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [Internet]. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Syphilis: CDC Fact Sheet (Detailed) [updated 2017 Feb 13; cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/std/syphilis/stdfact-syphilis-detailed.htm
  3. Lab Tests Online [Internet]. Washington D.C.: American Association for Clinical Chemistry; c2001–2018. Syphilis Tests [updated 2018 Mar 29; cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://labtestsonline.org/tests/syphilis-tests
  4. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998–2018. Lumbar puncture (spinal tap): Overview; 2018 Mar 22 [cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/lumbar-puncture/about/pac-20394631
  5. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998–2018. Syphilis: Diagnosis and treatment; 2018 Jan 10 [cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 4 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/syphilis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351762
  6. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c1998–2018. Syphilis: Symptoms and causes; 2018 Jan 10 [cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/syphilis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351756
  7. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co., Inc.; c2018. Syphilis [cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/infections/sexually-transmitted-diseases-stds/syphilis
  8. Merck Manual Consumer Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co., Inc.; c2018. Tests for Brain, Spinal Cord, and Nerve Disorders [cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/diagnosis-of-brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders/tests-for-brain,-spinal-cord,-and-nerve-disorders
  9. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests [cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  10. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Syphilis [cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/syphilis
  11. Tsang RSW, Radons SM, Morshed M. Laboratory diagnosis of syphilis: A survey to examine the range of tests used in Canada. Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol [Internet]. 2011 [cited 2018 Apr 10]; 22(3): 83–87. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3200370
  12. UF Health: University of Florida Health [Internet]. University of Florida; c2018. Syphilis: Overview [updated 2018 Mar 29; cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://ufhealth.org/syphilis
  13. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2018. Health Encyclopedia: Rapid Plasma Reagin [cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=rapid_plasma_reagin_syphilis
  14. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2018. Health Encyclopedia: VDRL (CSF) [cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=vdrl_csf
  15. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Syphilis Tests: Results [updated 2017 Mar 20; cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 8 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/syphilis-tests/hw5839.html#hw5874
  16. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Syphilis Tests: Test Overview [updated 2017 Mar 20; cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/syphilis-tests/hw5839.html
  17. UW Health [Internet]. Madison (WI): University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority; c2018. Syphilis Tests: Why It is Done [updated 2017 Mar 20; cited 2018 Mar 29]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://www.uwhealth.org/health/topic/medicaltest/syphilis-tests/hw5839.html#hw5852

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Skin Biopsy: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What is a skin biopsy?

A skin biopsy is a procedure that removes a small sample of skin for testing. The skin sample is looked at under a microscope to check for skin cancer, skin infections, or skin disorders such as psoriasis.

There are three main ways to do a skin biopsy:

  • A punch biopsy, which uses a special circular tool to remove the sample.
  • A shave biopsy, which removes the sample with a razor blade
  • An excisional biopsy, which removes the sample with small knife called a scalpel.

The type of biopsy you get depends on the location and size of the abnormal area of skin, known as a skin lesion. Most skin biopsies can be done in a health care provider’s office or other outpatient facility.

Other names: punch biopsy, shave biopsy, excisional biopsy, skin cancer biopsy, basal cell biopsy, squamous cell biopsy, melanoma biopsy

What is it used for?

A skin biopsy is used to help diagnose a variety of skin conditions including:

  • Skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema
  • Bacterial or fungal infections of the skin
  • Skin cancer. A biopsy can confirm or rule out whether a suspicious mole or other growth is cancerous.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell and squamous cell cancers. These cancers rarely spread to other parts of the body and are usually curable with treatment. A third type of skin cancer is called melanoma. Melanoma is less common than the other two, but more dangerous because it’s more likely to spread. Most skin cancer deaths are caused by melanoma.

A skin biopsy can help diagnose skin cancer in the early stages, when it’s easier to treat.

Why do I need a skin biopsy?

You may need a skin biopsy if you have certain skin symptoms such as:

  • A persistent rash
  • Scaly or rough skin
  • Open sores
  • A mole or other growth that is irregular in shape, color, and/or size

What happens during a skin biopsy?

A health care provider will clean the site and inject an anesthetic so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. The rest of the procedure steps depend on which type of skin biopsy you are getting. There are three main types:

Punch biopsy

  • A health care provider will place a special circular tool over the abnormal skin area (lesion) and rotate it to remove a small piece of skin (about the size of a pencil eraser).
  • The sample will be lifted out with a special tool
  • If a larger skin sample was taken, you may need one or two stitches to cover the biopsy site.
  • Pressure will be applied to the site until the bleeding stops.
  • The site will be covered with a bandage or sterile dressing.

A punch biopsy is often used to diagnose rashes.

Shave biopsy

  • A health care provider will use a razor or a scalpel to remove a sample from the top layer of your skin.
  • Pressure will be applied to the biopsy site to stop the bleeding. You may also get a medicine that goes on top of the skin (also called a topical medicine) to help stop the bleeding.

A shave biopsy is often used if your provider thinks you may have skin cancer, or if you have a rash that’s limited to the top layer of your skin.

Excisional biopsy

  • A surgeon will use a scalpel to remove the entire skin lesion (the abnormal area of skin).
  • The surgeon will close the biopsy site with stitches.
  • Pressure will be applied to the site until the bleeding stops.
  • The site will be covered with a bandage or sterile dressing.

An excisional biopsy is often used if your provider thinks you may have melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.

After the biopsy, keep the area covered with a bandage until you’ve healed, or until your stitches come out. If you had stitches, they will be taken out 3–14 days after your procedure.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a skin biopsy.

Are there any risks to the test?

You may have a little bruising, bleeding, or soreness at the biopsy site. If these symptoms last longer than a few days or they get worse, talk to your health care provider.

What do the results mean?

If your results were normal, it means no cancer or skin disease was found. If your results were not normal, you may be diagnosed with one of the following conditions:

  • A bacterial or fungal infection
  • A skin disorder such as psoriasis
  • Skin cancer. Your results may indicate one of three types of skin cancers: basal cell, squamous cell, or melanoma.

Is there anything else I need to know about a skin biopsy?

If you are diagnosed with basal cell or squamous cell cancer, the entire cancerous lesion may be removed at the time of the skin biopsy or soon after. Often, no other treatment is needed. If you are diagnosed with melanoma, you will need more tests to see if the cancer has spread. Then you and your health care provider can develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

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Zika Virus Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

What is a Zika virus test?

Zika is a viral infection usually spread by mosquitos. It can also spread through sex with an infected person or from a pregnant woman to her baby. A Zika virus test looks for signs of the infection in blood or urine.

Mosquitos that carry the Zika virus are most common in areas of the world with tropical climates. These include islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and parts of Africa, Central America, South America, and Mexico. Mosquitos carrying the Zika virus have also been found in parts of the United States, including South Florida.

Most people infected with Zika have no symptoms or mild symptoms that last a few days to a week. But a Zika infection can cause serious complications if you are pregnant. A Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly. Microcephaly can severely affect the development of a baby’s brain. Zika infections during pregnancy have also been linked to an increased risk of other birth defects, miscarriage, and stillbirth.

In rare cases, children and adults infected with Zika may get a disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). GBS is a disorder that causes the body’s immune system to attack part of the nervous system. GBS is serious, but treatable. If you get GBS, you will probably recover within a few weeks.

Other names: Zika Antibody Test, Zika RT-PCR Test , Zika test

What is it used for?

A Zika virus test is used to find out if you have a Zika infection. It is mostly used on pregnant women who have recently traveled to an area where there is a risk of Zika infection.

Why do I need a Zika virus test?

You may need a Zika virus test if you are pregnant and have recently traveled to an area where there is a risk of Zika infection. You may also need a Zika test if you are pregnant and have had sex with a partner who traveled to one of these areas.

A Zika test might be ordered if you have symptoms of Zika. Most people with Zika don’t have symptoms, but when there are symptoms, they often include:

What happens during a Zika virus test?

A Zika virus test is usually a blood test or a urine test.

If you are getting a Zika blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

If you are getting a Zika test in urine, ask your health care provider for instructions on how to provide your sample.

If you are pregnant and your prenatal ultrasound shows the possibility of microcephaly, your health care provider may recommend a procedure called amniocentesis to check for Zika. Amniocentesis is a test that looks at the fluid that surrounds an unborn baby (amniotic fluid). For this test, your provider will insert a special hollow needle into your belly and withdraw a small sample of fluid for testing.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t any special preparations for a Zika virus test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

There are no known risks to a urine test.

Amniocentesis may cause some cramping or pain in your belly. There is a small chance the procedure will cause a miscarriage. Talk to your health care provider about the benefits and risks of this test.

What do the results mean?

A positive Zika test result probably means you have a Zika infection. A negative result can mean you aren’t infected or you were tested too soon for the virus to show up in testing. If you think you were exposed to the virus, talk to your health care provider about when or if you need to be retested.

If you are diagnosed with Zika and are pregnant, you can start to prepare for your baby’s possible health problems before he or she is born. While not all babies exposed to Zika have birth defects or any health problems, many children born with Zika have long-lasting special needs. Talk to your health care provider about how to get support and health care services should you need them. Early intervention may make a difference in your child’s health and quality of life.

If you are diagnosed with Zika and are not pregnant, but would like become pregnant in the future, talk to your health care provider. Currently, there is no evidence of Zika-related pregnancy complications in women who have fully recovered from Zika. Your provider can tell you how long you should wait before trying to have a baby and if you need to retested.

Is there anything else I need to know about a Zika virus test?

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should take steps to reduce your risk of getting a Zika infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women avoid traveling in areas that may put you at risk for Zika infection. If you can’t avoid travel or if you live in one of these areas, you should:

  • Apply an insect repellent containing DEET on your skin and clothing. DEET is safe and effective for pregnant women.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Use screens on windows and doors
  • Sleep under a mosquito net

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Homocysteine Test: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

What is a homocysteine test?

A homocysteine test measures the amount of homocysteine in your blood. Homocysteine is a type of amino acid, a chemical your body uses to make proteins. Normally, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid break down homocysteine and change it into other substances your body needs. There should be very little homocysteine left in the bloodstream. If you have high levels of homocysteine in your blood, it may be a sign of a vitamin deficiency, heart disease, or a rare inherited disorder.

Other names: total homocysteine, plasma total homocysteine

What is it used for?

A homocysteine test may be used to:

  • Find out if you have deficiency in vitamin B12, B6, or folic acid.
  • Help diagnose homocystinuria, a rare, inherited disorder that prevents the body from breaking down certain proteins. It can cause serious health problems and usually starts in early childhood. Most U.S. states require all infants to get a homocysteine blood test as part of routine newborn screening.
  • Screen for heart disease in people at high risk for heart attack or stroke
  • Monitor people who have heart disease.

Why do I need a homocysteine test?

You may need this test if you have symptoms of a vitamin B or folic acid deficiency. These include:

  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Pale skin
  • Sore tongue and mouth
  • Tingling in the hands, feet, arms, and/or legs (in vitamin B12 deficiency)

You may also need this test if you are at high risk for heart disease because of prior heart problems or a family history of heart disease. Excess levels of homocysteine can build up in the arteries, which may increase your risk of blood clots, heart attack, and stroke.

What happens during a homocysteine test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You may need to fast (not eat or drink) for 8–12 hours before a homocysteine test.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

If your results show high homocysteine levels, it may mean:

  • You are not getting enough vitamin B12, B6, or folic acid in your diet.
  • You are at a higher risk of heart disease.
  • Homocystinuria. If high levels of homocysteine are found, more testing will be needed to rule out or confirm a diagnosis.

If your homocysteine levels were not normal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a medical condition needing treatment. Other factors can affect your results, including:

  • Your age. Homocysteine levels can get higher as you get older.
  • Your gender. Men usually have higher homocysteine levels than women.
  • Alcohol use
  • Smoking
  • Use of vitamin B supplements

If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a homocysteine blood test?

If your health care provider thinks a vitamin deficiency is the reason for your high homocysteine levels, he or she may recommend dietary changes to address the problem. Eating a balanced diet should ensure you get the right amount of vitamins.

If your health care provider thinks your homocysteine levels put you at risk for heart disease, he or she will monitor your condition and may order more tests.

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Sweat Test for Cystic Fibrosis: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

What is a sweat test?

A sweat test measures the amount of chloride, a part of salt, in Sweat. It is used to diagnose cystic fibrosis (CF). People with CF have a high level of chloride in their sweat.

CF is a disease that causes mucus build-up in the lungs and other organs. It damages the lungs and makes it hard to breathe. It can also lead to frequent infections and malnutrition. CF is an inherited disease, which means it is passed down from your parents, through genes.

Genes are parts of DNA that carry information that determine your unique traits, such as height and eye color. Genes are also responsible for certain health problems. To have cystic fibrosis, you must have a CF gene from both your mother and your father. If only one parent has the gene, you will not get the disease.

Other names: sweat chloride test, cystic fibrosis sweat test, sweat electrolytes

What is it used for?

A sweat test is used to diagnose cystic fibrosis.

Why do I need a sweat test?

A sweat test can diagnose cystic fibrosis (CF) in people of all ages, but it’s usually done on babies. Your baby may need a sweat test if he or she tested positive for CF on a routine newborn blood test. In the United States, new babies are usually tested for a variety of conditions including CF. Most sweat tests are done when babies are 2 to 4 weeks old.

An older child or adult who has never been tested for CF may need a cystic fibrosis sweat test if someone in the family has the disease and/or has symptoms of CF. These include:

  • Salty-tasting skin
  • Frequent coughing
  • Frequent lung infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis
  • Trouble breathing
  • Failure to gain weight, even with a good appetite
  • Greasy, bulky stools
  • In newborns, no stools made right after birth

What happens during a sweat test?

Your health care provider will need to collect a sample of sweat for testing. The entire procedure will take about an hour and will probably include the following steps:

  • A health care provider will put pilocarpine, a medicine that causes sweating, on a small area of the forearm.
  • Your provider will place an electrode on this area.
  • A weak current will be sent through the electrode. This current makes the medicine seep into the skin. This may cause a little tingling or warmth.
  • After removing the electrode, your provider will tape a piece of filter paper or gauze on the forearm to collect the sweat.
  • Sweat will be collected for 30 minutes.
  • The collected sweat will be sent to a lab for testing.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for a sweat test, but you should avoid applying any creams or lotions to the skin for 24 hours before the procedure.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is no known risk to a sweat test. Your child may have a tingling or tickling sensation from the electric current, but should not feel any pain.

What do the results mean?

If the results show a high level of chloride, there is a good chance your child has cystic fibrosis. Your health care provider will probably order another sweat test and/or other tests to confirm or rule out a diagnosis. If you have questions about your child’s results, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about a sweat test?

While there is no cure for cystic fibrosis (CF), there are treatments available that help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. If your child was diagnosed with CF, talk with your health care provider about strategies and treatments to help manage the disease.

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Porphyrin Tests: MedlinePlus Lab Test Information

 

What are porphyrin tests?

Porphyrin tests measure the level of porphyrins in your blood, urine, or stool. Porphyrins are chemicals that help make hemoglobin, a type of protein in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body.

It’s normal to have a small amount of porphyrins in your blood and other body fluids. But too much porphyrin may mean you have a type of porphyria. Porphyria is a rare disorder that can cause serious health problems. Porphyria is usually divided into two categories:

  • Acute porphyrias, which mainly affect the nervous system and causes abdominal symptoms
  • Cutaneous porphyrias, which cause skin symptoms when you are exposed to sunlight

Some porphyrias affect both the nervous system and the skin.

Other names: protoporphyrin; protoporphyrin, blood; protoporhyrin, stool; porphyrins, feces; uroporphyrin; porphyrins, urine; Mauzerall-Granick test; acid; ALA; porphobilinogen; PBG; free erythrocyte protoporphyrin; fractionated erythrocyte porphyrins; FEP

What are they used for?

Porphyrin tests are used to diagnose or monitor porphyria.

Why do I need a porphyrin test?

You may need a porphyrin test if you have symptoms of porphyria. There are different symptoms for the different types of porphyria.

Symptoms of acute porphyria include:

Symptoms of cutaneous porphyria include:

You may also need a porphyrin test if someone in your family has porphyria. Most types of porphyria are inherited, meaning the condition is passed from parent to child.

What happens during porphyrin testing?

Porphyrins can be tested in blood, urine, or stool. The most common types of porphyrin tests are listed below.

  • Blood Test
    • A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
  • 24-Hour Urine Sample
    • You will collect all your urine during a 24-hour period. For this test, your health care provider or laboratory will give you a container and specific instructions on how to collect your samples at home. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully. This 24-hour urine sample test is used because the amounts of substances in urine, including porphyrin, can vary throughout the day. So collecting several samples in a day may give a more accurate picture of your urine content.
  • Random Urine Test
    • You can provide your sample at any time of day, with no special preparations or handling needed. This test is often done in a health care provider’s office or a lab.
  • Stool Test (also called protoporphyrin in stool)
    • You will collect a sample of your stool and place it in a special container. Your health care provider will give you instructions on how to prepare your sample and send it to a lab.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for blood or urine tests.

For a stool test, you may be instructed to not eat meat or take any aspirin-containing medicines for three days prior to your test.

Are there any risks to porphyrin tests?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

There are no known risks to urine or stool tests.

What do the results mean?

If high levels of porphyrin are found in your blood, urine, or stool, your health care provider will probably order more tests to confirm a diagnosis and to find out what kind of porphyria you have. While there is no cure for porphyria, the condition can be managed. Certain lifestyle changes and/or medicines can help prevent the symptoms and complications of the disease. Specific treatment depends on the type of porphyria you have. If you have questions about your results or about porphyria, talk to your health care provider.

Is there anything else I need to know about porphyrin tests?

While most types of porphyria are inherited, other types porphyria can also be acquired. Acquired porphyria can be caused by a variety of factors, including overexposure to lead, HIV, hepatitis C, excess iron intake, and/or heavy alcohol use.

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