The WSR blood test is designed to either detect or monitor the presence of inflammation within the body. Using what is known as the “Westergren method,” the test will measure the sedimentation rate of how red blood cells settle to the bottom of a glass tube. This test is used to confirm a suspected inflammation diagnosis so that an accurate treatment plan can be developed. Some medical providers may refer to this test as the erthrocyte sedimentation test.
As the red blood cells settle to the bottom of the glass tube, the serum of the blood becomes visible at the top of the tube. In the classic version of this test, the rate of sedimentation is measured after one hour. If there is inflammation somewhere in the body, then the sedimentation rates are higher when compared to when there isn’t any inflammation present.
This test is typically ordered when someone is suffering from pain in the joints or digestive issues. People with chronic headaches, neck pain, pelvic movement issues, or unusual weight loss without pain may also have the WSR blood test ordered.
What Do My Test Results Mean?
Everyone will have their red blood cells begin to settle when held upright in a glass tube. The measurements for a normal test result are based on gender and those in the 65+ age demographic may have naturally elevated test results which may not be medically significant.
In men, a normal test result is a sedimentation rate of up to15 mL per hour. In women, the normal rate is up to 20 mL per hour. It is possible for sedimentation rates to be rated at 0 and the results to be considered normal.
Anything above this amount is a reflection that there is inflammation present in the body somewhere. Although a medical provider may have a general idea of where the inflammation may be based on physical symptoms that are being experienced, there is no direct way to determine specifically through the WSR blood test where that inflammation happens to be. For this reason, a positive WSR blood test may be followed up by additional testing that can lead to a specific diagnosis.
It is important to note that a single test result with higher than normal results may not have any medical significance. Severely high results, however, are an indication of a severe infection being present at some place in the body.
Here’s What You Need To Know
There are certain drugs that are known to affect the WSR blood test results. The most common are oral contraceptives, aspirin, and penicillin. Certain supplements, such as Vitamin A, have also been known to create higher than normal test results.
Although test results may take up to 3 business days to complete, some commercial testing labs can perform the WSR blood test in as few as 4 minutes. This helps medical providers begin to understand a health problem in an emergency situation much more rapidly so that a treatment plan can be started faster and improve recovery times.
Changes in WSR test results will typically indicate an increase or decrease in the level of infection or inflammation within the body. Because it is unable to point to one specific disease or condition, however, this test is not part of the common battery of diagnostic tests that people receive during an annual exam.
Certain tests may be ordered in combination with the WSR blood test as well. The most common test is the CRP test, which measures inflammation within the body in a different manner. A complete blood count may also be ordered to determine what white blood cells and their counts happen to be to help begin forming a diagnosis. If autoimmune diseases are suspected, testing for a person’s rheumatoid factor may also occur.
Inflammation may be chronic or acute. The WSR blood test is unable to distinguish which is which. It can tell whether or not there is the potential for a serious health condition being present thanks to its ability to detect inflammation. It may be a non-specific test, but it can be the first step towards a needed diagnosis.
Only a medical provider can determine what specific results may mean with bothersome signs and symptoms. If there are any specific questions or concerns about WSR test results with a person’s individual medical history, then be sure to schedule an appointment with a local medical provider.