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Sedimentation Rate (Sed Rate)

Results

The sedimentation rate (sed rate) blood test measures how quickly red blood cells (erythrocytes) settle in a test tube.

Normal

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Results are usually available right away.

Sedimentation rate1
Men

0–15 millimeters per hour (mm/hr), or 0–20 mm/hr for men older than 50

Women

0–20 mm/hr, or 0–30 mm/hr for women older than 50

Children

0–10 mm/hr

Newborns

0–2 mm/hr

High values

High sedimentation rates may be caused by:

Low values

Low values may be caused by:

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Anemia.
  • Having your menstrual period.
  • Medicines. Many medicines can change the results of this test. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the nonprescription and prescription medicines you take.

What To Think About

  • Even though some problems, such as giant cell arteritis, almost always cause a high sedimentation rate (sed rate), the test can't be used by itself to identify a specific disease. Results of a sed rate test are considered along with your symptoms, other test results, and medical information.
  • Some diseases that cause inflammation do not increase the sed rate, so a normal sed rate does not always rule out a disease.
  • Some doctors use the C-reactive protein (CRP) blood test instead of the sed rate test to help identify inflammatory conditions. To learn more, see the topic C-Reactive Protein (CRP).

Citations

  1. Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Other Works Consulted

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: June 04, 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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