Hepatitis Blood Test Panel, Acute
The Hepatitis Blood Test Panel, Acute, helps detect and diagnose acute liver infection and inflammation that is due to one of the three most common hepatitis viruses: hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), or hepatitis C virus (HCV).
What is the purpose of this test?
Order this Hepatitis Blood Test Panel, Acute, which is used to help detect and diagnose acute liver infection and inflammation that is due to one of the three most common hepatitis viruses: hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), or hepatitis C virus (HCV). Acute viral hepatitis panel testing can identify early or recent infections to hepatitis A and hepatitis B and whether someone has been infected with hepatitis C at some point.
A Hepatitis Blood Test Panel, Acute detects acute or short-term infections with hepatitis A and B and chronic infections with hepatitis B. Chronic hepatitis B is less common than acute hepatitis but can last for years and slowly damage the liver. Over time, chronic hepatitis can result in complications such as severe liver scarring, called cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.
However, the Hepatitis Blood Test Panel, Acute, cannot differentiate between acute and chronic hepatitis C infections. Still, it can determine whether a patient has ever been infected with hepatitis C. Positive results on Hepatitis Blood Test Panel, Acute, often require follow-up testing to diagnose a patient's condition definitively and to initiate proper treatment.
This panel contains the following tests:
- Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg) - provides the earliest indicator of acute infection. Hepatitis B surface antigens are detectable within 1 to 10 weeks after exposure before symptoms develop and remain detectable for up to 4 to 6 months in patients who recover from acute infection. Also indicative of chronic infection. The test is helpful in the differential diagnosis of hepatitis. Patients who are negative for HBsAg may still have acute type B viral hepatitis. Sometimes, a "core window" stage occurs when HBsAg has become negative, and the patient has not yet developed the antibody (anti-HBs). On such occasions, both tests for anti-HBc are usually positive, and anti-HBc, IgM is the only specific marker for diagnosing acute infection with hepatitis B. In cases with strong clinical suspicion of viral hepatitis, serologic testing should not be limited to detecting HBsAg. Still, it should include several tests to evaluate different stages of acute and convalescent hepatitis.
- Hepatitis B Core Antibody (HBcAb) IgM - Positivity indicates recent infection with hepatitis B (≤6 months). Its presence, along with the presence of HBsAg, indicates acute infection. After the disappearance of hepatitis B surface antigens, IgM hepatitis B core antibodies are detectable for up to two years after an acute infection and during flare-ups of chronic hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis A Antibody (HAAb) IgM - Acute Hepatitis A is diagnosed using this antibody which typically appears within four weeks of exposure and disappears within three to six months.
- Hepatitis C Antibody (HCAb) - assesses exposure to Hepatitis C virus infection. This test is used for detecting antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus. Since a person with a past infection will have a lifelong antibody response, confirmed positive antibody tests mean that the person had been exposed to the virus at one time or another. Therefore, these tests are highly effective in ruling out HCV. The most up-to-date EIA can detect antibodies as early as six-eight weeks. Though a negative test can be extremely useful now, it is best to wait about three months to avoid needing a follow-up test.
When should I order a Hepatitis Blood Test Panel, Acute?
Individuals may order this test if they have experienced symptoms related to acute viral hepatitis. Common signs or symptoms of acute viral hepatitis, such as HAV, HBV, and HCV, include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Swollen blood vessels in the skin or
- Yellowed skin and eyes
- Dark urine
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Joint pain
Individuals are advised to contact their healthcare provider for further questions regarding test results.
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