Sedimentation Rate Blood Test, Westergren
The Sedimentation Rate Blood Test, Westergren, helps diagnose and monitor conditions that cause inflammation.
What is the purpose of this test?
Order this Sedimentation Rate Blood Test, Westergren, to help diagnose and monitor conditions that cause inflammation. A Sedimentation Rate, or erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), is a blood test that can show if there is inflammation in the body. Inflammation is the immune system's response to injuries, infections, and many other conditions, such as immune system disorders, certain cancers, and blood disorders.
Erythrocytes are red blood cells; therefore, the erythrocytes sedimentation rate test measures how quickly red blood cells (RBCs) settle to the bottom of a tube. Usually, RBCs sink slowly, but inflammation makes RBCs stick together in clumps. These clumps of cells are denser than single cells, so they sink faster. If a sedimentation rate test shows that the RBCs sink faster than normal, it may indicate a medical condition that causes inflammation. The speed of the test result is a sign of how much inflammation an individual has. Faster ESR rates mean higher levels of inflammation.
What causes abnormal sedimentation rates?
Many conditions cause abnormal sedimentation rates. Abnormally high sedimentation rates may be from a condition that causes inflammation, such as:
- Systemic vasculitis
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Kidney disease
- Autoimmune diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis)
- Heart disease
- Certain cancers
However, abnormally low sedimentation rates may indicate that red blood cells sank more slowly than normal. This may be caused by conditions such as:
- Blood disorders (Polycythemia, sickle cell disease, and leukocytosis)
- Heart failure
- Certain kidney and liver problems
When should I order a Sedimentation Rate Blood Test, Westergren?
Your healthcare provider may order an ESR if you have symptoms of a condition that causes inflammation. Your symptoms will depend on the condition you may have, but they may include the following:
- Weight loss
- Joint stiffness
- Neck or shoulder pain
- Loss of appetite
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