The Sed Rate by Modified Westergren (ESR) test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.
Brief Description: The Sed Rate (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate) test, also known as the ESR test, is a laboratory test that measures the rate at which red blood cells settle to the bottom of a tube over a certain period of time. It is a non-specific test that provides information about the presence of inflammation in the body.
Also Known As: Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate Test, ESR Test, Sed Rate Test, Sedimentation Rate Test, Westergren Sedimentation Rate Test
Collection Method: Blood Draw
Specimen Type: Whole Blood
Test Preparation: No preparation required
When is a Sed Rate test ordered?
A Sed Rate test may be ordered in the following situations:
Monitoring Inflammatory Conditions: It is commonly used to monitor the activity and progress of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatica, systemic lupus erythematosus, and temporal arteritis.
Diagnosing Infection: A Sed Rate test can help assess the presence of an infection, especially in cases where the cause is suspected to be due to a bacterial or fungal organism.
Assessing Response to Treatment: It may be ordered periodically to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment for an inflammatory condition or infection.
What does a Sed Rate blood test check for?
The erythrocyte sedimentation rate is a test that evaluates the degree of inflammation in the body indirectly. The test evaluates the rate at which erythrocytes fall in a blood sample that has been placed in a tall, thin, vertical tube. The millimeters of clear fluid present at the upper portion of the tube after one hour are reported as the results.
When a drop of blood is inserted in a tube, the red blood cells settle out slowly, leaving just a small amount of transparent plasma. In the presence of an increased number of proteins, particularly proteins known as acute phase reactants, red cells settle at a faster pace. Inflammation raises the levels of acute phase reactants such as C-reactive protein and fibrinogen in the blood.
An inherent component of the immune system's response is inflammation. It could be chronic, showing symptoms over time with conditions like autoimmune illnesses or cancer, or acute, showing symptoms right away after a shock, injury, or infection.
The ESR is a non-specific indication that can rise in a number of disorders; it is not a diagnostic test. It provides you with a fundamental understanding of whether you have an inflammatory condition or not.
Given the availability of more recent, specialized tests, there have been reservations about the ESR's utility. The ESR test, on the other hand, is commonly used to diagnose and monitor temporal arteritis, systemic vasculitis, and polymyalgia rheumatica. Extremely high ESR values can aid in differentiating between rheumatic diseases. Furthermore, ESR may still be a viable alternative in some cases, such as when newer tests are unavailable in resource-constrained places or while monitoring the progression of a disease.
Lab tests often ordered with a Sed Rate test:
When a Sed Rate test is ordered, several other tests are often conducted alongside it to provide a comprehensive understanding of the patient's health, particularly to identify the cause of the inflammation. Here’s an explanation of these tests:
C-Reactive Protein (CRP):
- Purpose: CRP is a protein that increases in the blood with inflammation and infection.
- Why Is It Ordered: Like ESR, CRP is a marker of inflammation. CRP levels can rise more quickly than ESR in response to inflammation, providing complementary information.
Complete Blood Count (CBC):
- Purpose: To provide a broad picture of overall blood health, including red and white blood cells and platelets.
- Why Is It Ordered: A CBC can help detect infections, inflammation, and anemia. An elevated white blood cell count, for example, often indicates an infection or inflammation.
Rheumatoid Factor (RF) and Anti-Cyclic Citrullinated Peptide (Anti-CCP):
- Purpose: These are specific antibodies tested for in autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Why Is It Ordered: To help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, especially when joint pain and inflammation are present.
Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA):
- Purpose: To test for antibodies often present in people with autoimmune disorders.
- Why Is It Ordered: To help diagnose systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and other autoimmune diseases.
Liver Function Tests:
- Purpose: To assess liver health.
- Why Is It Ordered: Liver diseases can cause inflammation, affecting ESR and CRP levels.
Kidney Function Test:
- Purpose: To evaluate kidney function.
- Why Is It Ordered: Kidney diseases can be associated with increased inflammation markers.
- Purpose: To analyze the content of the urine.
- Why Is It Ordered: To check for urinary tract infections or kidney disorders, which can cause elevated ESR.
- Purpose: To test for bacterial or fungal infections in the blood.
- Why Is It Ordered: In cases of fever or suspected sepsis, where the source of infection and inflammation is not clear.
- Purpose: To measure specific proteins in the blood and their levels.
- Why Is It Ordered: To evaluate conditions like multiple myeloma, which can present with elevated ESR.
Thyroid Function Tests (TSH, Free T3, Free T4):
- Purpose: To assess thyroid function.
- Why Is It Ordered: Thyroid disorders can sometimes contribute to systemic symptoms of inflammation.
These tests, when ordered alongside a Sed Rate test, help in the comprehensive evaluation of a patient’s inflammatory status. They assist in diagnosing the underlying cause of inflammation, whether it's an infection, autoimmune disease, cancer, or another condition. The specific tests selected depend on the individual's symptoms, medical history, and the results of the initial ESR test.
Conditions where a Sed Rate test is recommended:
A Sed Rate test is helpful in the evaluation of the following conditions or diseases:
Inflammatory Disorders: Conditions characterized by chronic inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and vasculitis, often require Sed Rate testing to assess disease activity and monitor treatment response.
Infections: Certain infections, including bacterial endocarditis, osteomyelitis, and some systemic infections, may cause an elevated Sed Rate as part of the inflammatory response.
Autoimmune Diseases: Autoimmune diseases like polymyalgia rheumatica, giant cell arteritis, and lupus can be associated with increased inflammation and elevated Sed Rate levels.
How does my health care provider use a Sed Rate test?
Healthcare providers use the results of a Sed Rate test to:
Assess Inflammation: An elevated Sed Rate indicates the presence of inflammation, which helps healthcare providers diagnose and monitor inflammatory conditions.
Monitor Treatment Response: By comparing Sed Rate levels before and after treatment, healthcare providers can evaluate the effectiveness of therapy and make adjustments if necessary.
Detect Hidden Infections: In certain cases, an elevated Sed Rate may prompt further investigations to identify underlying infections that may not be immediately apparent.
It is important to note that while a Sed Rate test is a valuable tool in assessing inflammation, it is not specific to any particular condition and must be interpreted in conjunction with other clinical findings and diagnostic tests. A qualified healthcare provider is best suited to analyze the results and provide appropriate guidance and treatment recommendations.
What do my Sed Rate test results mean?
Because ESR is a non-specific inflammatory measure that is influenced by a variety of circumstances, it must be used in conjunction with other clinical findings, the individual's medical history, and the results of other laboratory tests. The health practitioner may be able to confirm or rule out a suspected illness if the ESR and clinical data match.
Without any signs of a specific condition, a single elevated ESR is usually insufficient to make a medical conclusion. A normal result does not, however, rule out inflammation or illness.
Inflammation, as well as anemia, infection, pregnancy, and aging, can cause a moderately raised ESR.
A severe infection with a rise in globulins, polymyalgia rheumatica, or temporal arteritis are common causes of an extremely high ESR. Depending on the person's symptoms, a health practitioner may employ various follow-up tests, such as blood cultures. Even if there is no inflammation, people with multiple myeloma or Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia have extraordinarily high ESRs.
Rising ESRs may suggest increased inflammation or a poor response to therapy when monitoring a condition over time; normal or falling ESRs may indicate an adequate response to treatment.
Most Common Questions About the Sed Rate test:
Understanding the Test
What is the Sed Rate test?
The Sed Rate test, also known as the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test, is a blood test that can reveal inflammatory activity in the body. It measures the rate at which red blood cells (erythrocytes) settle at the bottom of a test tube in an hour.
Why would someone need a Sed Rate test?
The Sed Rate test is often used to help diagnose conditions associated with acute and chronic (long-term) inflammation, including infections, cancers, and autoimmune diseases. It can also help monitor the progress of these diseases.
Interpreting the Results
What do the results of the Sed Rate test mean?
The results are given in millimeters per hour (mm/hr). Generally, a higher sed rate indicates greater inflammation in the body. However, a low sed rate is usually of less concern, but it might indicate certain diseases or conditions like polycythemia, sickle cell anemia, or extreme leukocytosis.
How are the results of the Sed Rate test presented?
The results of the Sed Rate test are presented as a numerical value in millimeters per hour (mm/hr). This represents how far the top of the column of blood cells has fallen in a test tube over one hour.
About the Test
What factors can affect the results of the Sed Rate test?
Factors that can affect the results include age, sex, pregnancy, certain medications, and underlying medical conditions.
Understanding the Implications
What conditions can cause an elevated Sed Rate?
An elevated Sed Rate can indicate many different inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, vasculitis, infection, malignancy, or other inflammatory diseases.
What are the implications of an elevated Sed Rate?
An elevated Sed Rate can indicate inflammation or a related disorder. However, it is a nonspecific test and doesn't diagnose a specific condition. Further diagnostic testing will often be needed if the Sed Rate is high.
Risks and Precautions
How do elevated Sed Rates impact health?
An elevated Sed Rate can indicate an underlying inflammatory condition that may need to be addressed. However, the Sed Rate test itself doesn't provide a diagnosis, so further testing is often required to determine the cause of the inflammation.
Dealing with Abnormal Results
What steps should be taken if the Sed Rate test results are elevated?
The next steps depend on the specific results and potential underlying conditions. These could include further diagnostic testing, consultation with a specialist, or starting a treatment plan for the identified condition.
Interpreting the Test Results
What is the significance of an elevated Sed Rate in the blood?
An elevated Sed Rate in the blood generally indicates some form of inflammation, infection, malignancy, or autoimmune disease in the body. The test, however, is nonspecific, so it does not identify the exact cause.
Understanding the Importance of the Test
How does the Sed Rate test assist in diagnosing disease?
The Sed Rate test can help diagnose diseases that cause inflammation. However, it is a nonspecific test and is often used in combination with other tests and clinical information to diagnose a specific condition.
Discussion with Healthcare Provider
What do I discuss with my healthcare provider after receiving the Sed Rate test results?
You should discuss what your results mean in the context of your symptoms and overall health. If your Sed Rate is elevated, discuss the possible causes and any additional tests you might need.
Relationship with Other Tests
How does the Sed Rate test relate to other inflammation tests?
The Sed Rate test is often used along with or compared to another inflammation test, the C-reactive protein (CRP) test. While both tests measure inflammation in the body, they can be affected by different conditions and may not always be elevated at the same time.
How does the Sed Rate test complement other diagnostic tools?
The Sed Rate test can help indicate whether inflammation is present, which can support other diagnostic tools like imaging studies or specific blood tests in diagnosing certain conditions.
The Test and Specific Conditions
Can the Sed Rate test help diagnose rheumatoid arthritis?
While the Sed Rate test can't diagnose rheumatoid arthritis on its own, it can provide useful information. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis have an elevated Sed Rate, indicating active inflammation.
Can the Sed Rate test diagnose lupus?
The Sed Rate test can help suggest a diagnosis of lupus if a person has symptoms of the disease. An elevated Sed Rate is common in people with active lupus, but further testing is needed for a definitive diagnosis.
Conditions That Warrant the Test
Why would a person with unexplained fever need a Sed Rate test?
A person with unexplained fever might need a Sed Rate test because a high Sed Rate can indicate the presence of an inflammatory process in the body, which might be causing the fever.
Why would a person with joint pain and stiffness need a Sed Rate test?
Joint pain and stiffness can be symptoms of inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. A Sed Rate test can help determine whether inflammation is present.
Further Diagnosis and Treatments
What additional tests might be ordered if my Sed Rate is elevated?
Additional tests will depend on your symptoms and medical history, but could include tests for specific inflammatory or autoimmune conditions, imaging tests, or other lab tests like a complete blood count (CBC) or metabolic panel.
What are the potential treatments for conditions indicated by an elevated Sed Rate?
Treatments will depend on the specific condition indicated by the elevated Sed Rate. Potential treatments could include anti-inflammatory medications, antibiotics for infections, treatments for autoimmune diseases, or therapies for cancers.
What are the normal reference ranges for the Sed Rate test?
The normal reference ranges can vary by lab and by individual factors like age and sex. Generally, for men under 50, the Sed Rate should be less than 15 mm/hr. For men over 50, it should be less than 20 mm/hr. For women under 50, it should be less than 20 mm/hr, and for women over 50, it should be less than 30 mm/hr.
How frequently should the Sed Rate test be done?
The frequency of the Sed Rate test will depend on the individual's health situation. It might be done regularly to monitor certain conditions or it might only be done occasionally to check for inflammation.
Why does age and sex affect the results of the Sed Rate test?
Age and sex can affect the results of the Sed Rate test because they influence the factors that affect the settling of red blood cells, such as the number and size of red blood cells and the level of certain proteins in the blood.
Why is the Sed Rate test not used as a standalone diagnostic tool?
The Sed Rate test is not used as a standalone diagnostic tool because it is a nonspecific test, meaning it can be elevated due to many different conditions. A healthcare provider will typically use it along with other tests and information to make a diagnosis.
Why is the Sed Rate test used in monitoring disease activity?
The Sed Rate test is useful in monitoring disease activity because it can show whether treatment is effectively reducing inflammation. In diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, a decrease in the Sed Rate can indicate that the disease is less active or that treatment is working.
We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.