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Mononucleosis Tests

How It Feels

The blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm or from your fingertip. You may feel nothing at all from the needle or lancet, or you may feel a quick sting or pinch. The elastic band that is wrapped around your upper arm when blood is taken from a vein may feel tight.

Risks

There is very little chance of a problem from having a blood sample taken from your fingertip or 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 minutes.
  • 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 who have 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.

Results

Mononucleosis tests are blood tests to look for antibodies that indicate mononucleosis (mono), which is usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The antibodies are made by the immune system to fight an infection.

Monospot test

The results of a monospot test are usually ready within 1 hour.

Monospot test
Normal (negative):

The blood sample does not form clumps (no heterophil antibodies are detected).

Abnormal (positive):

The blood sample clumps (heterophil antibodies are detected). If the blood sample clumps, you probably have mono.

Epstein-Barr antibody testing

The results of the antibody test to detect Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) may be reported as positive (antibodies are present) or negative (antibodies are not present). Or the test results may be reported in titers. A titer is a measure of how much the blood sample can be diluted before the antibodies against the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) can no longer be detected.

The EBV antibody test can also detect the type of antibodies (immunoglobulins) present in the blood. The type of antibody shows whether the infection is recent or old. The antibody IgM is only found during the active phase of mono. The antibody IgG can be found later, when you are starting to get better.

The results of an EBV antibody test are usually ready within 3 days.

EBV antibody test1
Normal (negative):

The titer is less than 1 to 10 (1:10). A titer of less than 1:10 means that you have never been exposed to EBV.

No IgM is present. If IgG is present, it may mean that you have been exposed to EBV in the past.

Abnormal (positive):

A titer greater than 1 to 10 (1:10) usually means that you have been infected with EBV at some time.

A titer of 1:320 or greater means that you have an active EBV infection (mononucleosis).

IgM is present. IgG may also be present but may mean that you have been exposed to EBV in the past.

 

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 03, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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