Antibody Tests (Coombs Test)
Why It Is Done continued...
The direct Coombs test also may be done on a newborn baby with
Rh-positive blood whose mother has
Rh-negative blood. The test shows whether the mother
has made antibodies and if the antibodies have moved through the
placenta to her baby.
Indirect Coombs test
The indirect Coombs test
finds certain antibodies that are in the liquid part of your blood (serum).
These antibodies can attack red blood cells but are not attached to your red
blood cells. The indirect Coombs test is commonly done to find antibodies in a
recipient's or donor's blood before a transfusion.
A test to
determine whether a woman has Rh-positive or Rh-negative blood (Rh antibody
titer) is done early in pregnancy. If she is Rh-negative, steps can be taken to
protect the baby.
How To Prepare
You do not need to do anything before
you have this test.
How It Is Done
The health professional drawing blood
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to
stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is
easier to put a needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with
- Put the needle into the vein. If the needle is not placed
correctly or if the vein collapses, more than one needle stick may be
- Hook a tube to the needle to fill it with
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is
- Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as
the needle is removed.
- Put pressure to the site and then a
How It Feels
The blood sample is taken from a vein in
your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight.
You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or
There is very little chance of a problem from
having blood sample taken from a vein.
- You may get a small bruise at the site. You can
lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several
- In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood
sample is taken. This problem is called phlebitis. A warm compress can be used
several times a day to treat this.
- Ongoing bleeding can be a
problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and
other blood-thinning medicines can make bleeding more likely. If you have
bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell
your doctor before your blood sample is taken.
Antibody tests (Coombs tests) are done to find antibodies that attack
red blood cells.
No antibodies are found. This is called a
negative test result.
- Direct Coombs test. A negative test result means
that your blood does not have antibodies attached to your red blood
- Indirect Coombs test. A negative test result
means that your blood is compatible with the blood you are to receive by
transfusion. A negative indirect Coombs test for Rh factor (Rh antibody titer)
in a pregnant woman means that she has not developed antibodies against the
Rh-positive blood of her baby. This means that
Rh sensitization has not occurred.
- Direct Coombs test. A positive result means your
blood has antibodies that fight against red blood cells. This can be caused by
a transfusion of incompatible blood or may be related to conditions such as
systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE),
hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN),
lymphoma, mycoplasma infection, advanced stage cancer,
- Indirect Coombs test. A positive test result
means that your blood is incompatible with the donor's blood and you can't
receive blood from that person. If the Rh antibody titer test is positive in a
woman who is pregnant or is planning to become pregnant, it means that she has
antibodies against Rh-positive blood (Rh sensitization). She will be tested
early in pregnancy to check the blood type of her baby. If the baby has
Rh-positive blood, the mother will be watched closely throughout the pregnancy
to prevent problems to the baby's red blood cells. If sensitization has not
occurred, it can be prevented by a shot of