Cold agglutinins blood test is performed for detecting Rh conditions that simulate the body to produce cold agglutinins or antibodies. Cold agglutinins production generally occurs in response to infection. It causes red blood cells to clump together at low temperature. So the name cold is given to it. Low levels of cold agglutinins are found in the blood of healthy people. If skin is exposed to cold then blood in blood vessels get clumped due to high levels of cold agglutinins. This causes pale skin and numbness in the hands and feet. When exposed skin warms up then the symptoms go away. Sometimes, blood flow is stopped at certain body areas especially at fingertips, toes, ears or nose. It may lead to tissue death or gangrene. Sometimes, high level cold agglutinins may destruct the red blood cells throughout the body. This condition is known as the cold agglutinin-mediated autoimmune hemolytic anemia. High cold agglutinin with unknown reasons is known as idiopathic cold agglutinin disease.
NeedCold agglutinins test is performed to:
- Check if the high cold agglutinins levels are the reason of autoimmune hemolytic anemia, associated with some kind of viral infection like lymphoma, or some conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus.
- Find out mycoplasma pneumonia after observing the symptoms for a week.
Procedure The test does not require any special kind of preparation. The blood sample is collected from a vein and then sent to the laboratory for the testing. Needle site is cleaned with antiseptic and an elastic band is wrapped on upper arm to make the veins bigger. Then blood is collected by inserting the needle into the vein. The bandage is kept on the site after the process.
Result The results of the cold agglutinins test are expressed in titers. Titer measures the amount of blood sample diluted before the cold agglutinins can no longer be detected. A titer of 1 to 8 (1:8) is the detection of cold agglutinins when 1 part of blood sample is diluted by up to 8 parts of a salt solution (saline). Normal values of the result may vary from lab to lab.
Normal: Cold agglutinins normal titer is below 1:40
Greater than normal values: it may be observed in some infections such as mycoplasma, pneumonia, infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus, malaria, hepatitis C, cirrhosis and autoimmune diseases.
Diseases like hemolytic anemia, multiple myeloma, rheumatoid arthritis, or scleroderma may cause high levels of cold agglutinins. More than1:1000 titers indicate development of lymph gland cancer (lymphoma).
Consideration The antibiotics used recently, conditions such as pneumonia, infectious mononucleosis, malaria, peripheral arterial disease, congenital syphilis, cirrhosis, anemia, multiple myeloma and chickenpox may affect the results of the test. If the blood sample is kept in the cold surrounding then it may also affect the result of the test. For getting accurate results blood sample should be kept in a little warmer temperature than the normal temperature. There are no considerable risks from any kind of blood test except little bruising, swelling at needle sight.
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