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Coombs' test - indirect
The indirect Coombs' test measures the presence of antibodies to red blood cells in the blood (see also Coombs' test - direct ).
How the test is performed
Adult or child:
Infant or young child:
How to prepare for the test
Infants and children:
How the test will feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a bruise may develop at the site where the needle was inserted.
Why the test is performed
The indirect Coombs' test detects circulating antibodies against red blood cells (RBCs). The major use of this test is to determine if the patient has antibodies in the blood capable of attaching to RBCs. (These antibodies are other than the major ABO system or the Rh type).
The test is only rarely used to diagnose a medical condition but is essential for use by laboratories such as blood banks. Blood banks use the indirect Coombs' test is to determine whether there is likely to be an adverse reaction to blood that is going to be used for a blood transfusion.
No agglutination (i.e., the absence of clumping of red blood cells) is normal.
What abnormal results mean
An abnormal indirect Coombs' test may indicate the presence of an antibody against an antigen that the body views as foreign:
If you have antibodies against your own red cells, the indirect Coombs' test results may be abnormal if there are excess antibodies beyond what your red blood cells can absorb. This may indicate autoimmune hemolytic anemia or drug-induced hemolytic anemia .
What the risks are
Special considerationsVeins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Update Date: 11/7/2002Ezra E. W. Cohen, M.D., Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT