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DefinitionThis is a blood test that measures the amount of lactic acid.
How the test is performed
Blood is drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The puncture site is cleaned with antiseptic, and an elastic band is placed around the upper arm to apply pressure and restrict blood flow through the vein. This causes veins below the band to fill with blood.
A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an air-tight vial or a syringe. During the procedure, the band is removed to restore circulation. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
How to prepare for the testDo not exercise for several hours before the test.
Infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child's age and previous experience. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:
How the test will feelWhen 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.
Why the test is performed
This test is usually used to see if lactic acid accumulation is causing acidosis (acidotic body state) symptoms.
Normal Values4.5 to 19.8 mg/dl (0.5-2.2 mmol/L)
Note: mg/dl = milligrams per deciliter; mmol/L = millimoles per liter
What abnormal results mean
Severe oxygen deprivation of tissues results in a switch from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism. Because lactate is the main product of anaerobic metabolism, it accumulates when there is oxygen deprivation.
Hypoxia seen in shock , congestive heart failure (or any other condition that would cause problems in oxygen being picked up by or transported in the blood), hepatic (liver) dysfunction, ischemia (not enough oxygenated blood getting to a certain area), and pulmonary (lung) insufficiency are all associated with increased serum lactate.
What the risks are
Special considerationsClenching the fist or having the elastic band in place for a long time while having blood drawn can artificially increase lactic acid level.
Veins 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: 8/18/2003David Webner, M.D., Sports Medicine Fellow, Crozer-Keystone Family Practice Program, Springfield, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT