What is meant by Erythrocyte sedimentation rate?

People are often dreadful with the biological terms because they are unfamiliar with their meanings. One of these terms is “Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)”, which is not as difficult as it looks. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) is often named as sedimentation rate or Biernacki Reaction. In fact, it is the rate at which RBCs sediment within the period of 1 hour.

Erythrocyte sedimentation test is a common test performed in hematology. To perform the test (Erythrocyte sedimentation rate), anticoagulated blood is poured in an upright test tube, which is specific for this test and known as a Westergren tube. The rate at which the RBCs are sediment is measured in mm/h. It is an automated analysis tool in clinical laboratory and does not require any physical performance except blood drawing.

Principal of Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate:

The ESR depends on the presence of sedimentation factors, mainly fibrinogen which supports sedimentation and negative charges of RBCs which resist sedimentation. ESR is actually a determinant of inflammation in the body.

As you know that amount of fibrinogen is increased in inflammation which increase stickiness of the red blood cells, medically it is called Rouleaux formation. This Rouleaux sediment earlier than normal conditions, hence determine inflammatory process.

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate helps in diagnosis of diseases:

Undoubtedly, laboratory analysis is the best tool for diagnosis of a disease and is recommended by the doctors for maximum health care for you.

Erythrocyte sedimentation rate is helpful in diagnosis of diseases which initiate inflammatory reaction like rheumatoid arthritis and pregnancy.

Moreover, some conditions are also there which decrease ESR, these are polycythemia, hereditary spherocytosis, sickle cell anemia, and congestive heart failure.

Another thing which must be mentioned in this discussion is that basal ESR is slightly higher in females than males.

It is commonly use as a screening test in asymptomatic patients but final diagnosis needs advance analysis techniques because of its low sensitivity and specificity.

Normal values of erythrocyte sedimentation rate:

Normal values of erythrocyte sedimentation rate fluctuate according to the age and gender of individual.

According to Westergren’s original normal values, men ESR should be 3mm and women ESR should be 7mm.

It is also said that erythrocyte sedimentation rate is increasing with increase in age of individual, according to this formula, which is taken from Wikipedia.

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