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Lead levels - blood
Alternative namesBlood lead levels
DefinitionThis is a test that measures the amount of lead in the blood.
How the test is performed
Blood is drawn from a vein, usually on 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 testNo dietary restriction of food or fluid is necessary.
If your child is to have this test performed it may be helpful to explain how the test will feel, and even practice or demonstrate on a doll. The more familiar your child is with what will happen to them, and the purpose for the procedure, the less anxiety they will feel.
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 performedWhile lead serves no function in our bodies, it is usually present to some degree since it is so common in our environment. Low levels in adults are not thought to be harmful, but in infants and children, low levels of lead can lead to toxicity (see lead poisoning ) such as deficits in intellectual/cognitive development.
This test is performed to screen people at risk for lead poisoning (such as industrial workers or children in urban areas), and to monitor the improvement of those who already have diagnosed increased serum lead levels, or lead toxicity.
Note: dL = deciliter
What abnormal results meanAdults:
If you have elevated lead levels, it is vital that you are separated immediately from the source of the lead. You should discuss possible sources of exposure and ways to eliminate the exposures with your health care provider.
Note: dL = deciliter
What the risks areRisks associated with having blood drawn are slight:
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: 9/3/2003Michael C. Milone, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT