Mononucleosis tests are blood tests to look
antibodies that indicate
mononucleosis (mono), which is usually caused by the
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The antibodies are made by
immune system to fight an infection.
- Monospot test (heterophil test). This quick
screening test detects a type of antibody (heterophil antibody) that forms
during certain infections. A sample of blood is placed on a microscope slide
and mixed with other substances. If heterophil antibodies are present, the
blood clumps (agglutinates). This result usually indicates a mono infection.
Monospot testing can usually detect antibodies 2 to 9 weeks after a person is
infected. It typically is not used to diagnose mono that started more than 6
- EBV antibody test. For this test, a sample of blood
is mixed with a substance that attaches to antibodies against EBV. A series of
tests can detect different types of antibodies to help determine whether you
were infected recently or sometime in the past.
Why It Is Done
monospot test is done to help diagnose a recent
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) antibody testing is
also done to help diagnose mono. The EBV antibody test can help determine
whether you have ever been infected with the virus and whether the infection
has been recent.
EBV antibody testing is usually done when you
have symptoms of infectious mononucleosis and a monospot test result is
negative. EBV antibody testing may also be done to check for
antibodies to EBV when a person has a disease or uses
medicine that causes problems with the
How To Prepare
No special preparation is required
before having this test.
Talk to your doctor about
any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will
be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the
importance of this test, fill out the
medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
The monospot test is done on a small
sample of blood taken from your fingertip or from a vein. The Epstein-Barr
antibody test is done on a blood sample taken from your vein.
Blood test from a finger stick
For a fingertip
sample, the health professional taking the sample will:
- Clean your hand with soap and warm water or
an alcohol swab.
- Massage your hand without touching the puncture
- Puncture the skin on the side of your middle or ring finger
with a small instrument called a lancet.
- Wipe away the first drop
- Place a small tube called a capillary tube on the
puncture site and collect a small amount of blood.
- Put a gauze pad
or cotton ball over the puncture site as the tube is removed.
pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.
Blood test from a vein
The health professional
taking a sample of your blood will:
- 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. More than one needle stick
may be needed.
- Attach 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 on the site and then put on a