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What is the importance of a sedimentation rate blood test?

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Quick Answer

Sedimentation rate blood tests identify and monitor inflammation and are commonly used in monitoring inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, vasculitis, abscesses, cancer and lupus, according to eMedicineHealth. The test measures how quickly red blood cells fall to the bottom of a test tube. The more inflammation present, the faster the sedimentation rate of the red blood cells. Causes of low sedimentation rates include conditions such as high blood sugar, sickle cell disease, liver disease and polycythemia.

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Full Answer

Sedimentation rate blood tests are most commonly used to monitor giant cell arteritis, polymyalgia rheumatica and rheumatoid arthritis, as stated by Mayo Clinic. They are frequently administered in conjunction with a C-reactive protein test, which provides more specific information regarding the source of the inflammation.

Sedimentation rate blood test results are not conclusive, as many conditions may cause a high sedimentation rate and thus further tests must be conducted to confirm a diagnosis, explains eMedicineHealth. Some diseases that cause inflammation may not result in an increased sedimentation rate. Conditions such as pregnancy, anemia, certain medicines and menstruation may invalidate the results.

The test is quick and easy to perform, requiring only a blood draw, and the results are available immediately, according to eMedicineHealth.

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