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Alternative namesThis test measures the amount of alpha-1 antitrypsin (A1AT) in your blood serum.
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. An elastic band or blood pressure cuff is placed around the upper arm to cause veins to swell 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 testThere is no special preparation.
For infants and children:
The preparation a parent can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on the child's age, interests, previous experiences, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child's age:
How the test will feelWhen the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people may 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 helpful in identifying a rare form of emphysema in adults and a rare form of cirrhosis in children. In the absence of A1AT, certain digestive enzymes released by white blood cells may go unchecked and cause widespread damage in the lungs and liver.
Everyone has two copies of the gene that makes A1AT. Most people with the disease have one normal gene for A1AT, and only one abnormal gene. These people will have lower than normal levels of A1AT, but not as low as people who have 2 abnormal copies and generally more severe disease.
What abnormal results meanLower-than-normal levels of A1AT may be associated with :
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 others.
Update Date: 5/12/2003Bridget Martell, M.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT