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Alternative namesBlood hemoglobin; Serum hemoglobin
DefinitionSerum hemoglobin is a test that measures the level of free (that is, outside red blood cells) hemoglobin in the blood.
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 a tourniquet (an elastic band) or blood pressure cuff is placed around the upper arm to apply pressure and restrict blood flow through the vein.
This causes veins below the tourniquet to distend (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 tourniquet 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 preparation is necessary.
For infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your 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 feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the test is performed
The test is done to detect and monitor the severity of various kinds of hemolytic anemia , or breakdown of red blood cells.
Plasma Hb that is not bound to haptoglobin nor removed by the kidneys may be changed to a form called methemoglobin.
Normal Values11.5 to 15.5 mg/dl (can vary by age, gender, and testing laboratory)
Note: mg/dl = milligrams per deciliter
What abnormal results meanElevated levels may indicate:
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: 5/1/2003Ezra E. W. Cohen, M.D., Section of Hematology/Oncology, 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