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Sedimentation Rate Test

Sedimentation Rate Test


A sedimentation rate test, also called the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), is a blood test that is used to detect inflammation in the body. It is not a stand-alone diagnostic tool because it can't pinpoint the main problem that is causing the inflammation. It is combined with other tests to determine the cause of your symptom. A sedimentation rate test helps to confirm a diagnosis or monitor the progress of an inflammatory disease. It also helps to determine the severity of a person’s inflammatory response and monitors the effect of treatment.

When is the test done?

A sedimentation rate test is performed when a condition or disease is suspected of causing inflammation in the body. Your doctor may also order the test if you have a fever, certain muscle problems or certain types of arthritis. There are numerous inflammatory conditions that can be detected by the test. These include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Abscesses
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Septic arthritis
  • Vasculitis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Polymyositis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease

How is the test performed?

To conduct the test, a blood sample is drawn from the patients’ arm. The sample is placed in a long, thin tube, containing a chemical that stops the blood from clotting. The red blood cells gradually settle at the bottom of the tube (as a sediment) leaving a clear liquid called plasma at the top.

Inflammation causes the cells to clump together. Clumps of cells have a higher density than individual cells, and tend to settle at the bottom more rapidly. A sedimentation rate test measures the rate at which the red blood cells separate from the plasma and fall to the bottom of a test tube. This is measured in millimetres per hour (mm/hr).

The faster the red blood cells descend in one hour, the greater the inflammatory. Certain medications and drugs can affect a person’s ESR test result. Patients must inform the doctor about any prescription medications taken at the time of the test.

Meaning of the ESR test Results

Sedimentation rate test results are reported as millimeters of clear fluid (plasma) present at the top portion of the tube after one hour (mm/hr).

Normal ESR Test Results:

Normal ESR levels for men, women, and children are:

  • Women:
  • Under 50 years - The ESR result should be under 20mm/hr

    Over 50 years - The ESR result should be under 30 mm/hr

  • Men:
  • Under 50 years - The ESR result should be under 15mm/hr

    OOver 50 years - The ESR result should be under 20mm/hr

  • Newborns and Children:
  • Newborns - The ESR result should be under 2mm/hr

    Children below puberty - The ESR result should be between 3 and 13 mm/hr

Abnormal ESR Test Results:

Abnormal ESR results indicate inflammation in the body. The results do not necessarily indicate a specific disease. The test results can be affected by various factors such as age and medication usage. Before confirming or ruling out a diagnosis, factors including other clinical findings, the patient’s health history, and other lab test results should be considered.

Contact Polymedco CDP, LLC

Polymedco CDP, LLC is the leading manufacturer and distributor of clinical laboratory supplies. We can help you deliver value based medicine to your patients with the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test. Call 888 638 7757 or email us at

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