Plasma viscosity

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Also known as: PV

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To detect and monitor inflammation, to help diagnosis and monitoring many conditions. To estimate the stickiness of the blood caused by abnormal proteins (“paraproteins”).

When to Get Tested?

When your doctor thinks that you might have a condition that causes inflammation and to help diagnose and follow the course of this condition, especially temporal arteritis or polymyalgia rheumatica. To monitor whether paraproteins are causing clinically important stickiness of the blood which is likely to affect the circulation.

Sample Required?

A blood sample taken from a vein in the arm.

Test Preparation Needed?

No test preparation is needed.

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Plasma viscosity is an indirect measure of the amount of protein present in the plasma (liquid) part of the blood. It can reflect the degree of inflammation present in the body. It can also detect the presence of abnormal paraproteins which can be made by benign or malignant tumours. It actually measures the force needed to send a fixed amount of plasma flowing along a thin tube in a given time, at a standard temperature. Typically, distilled water at 20C will have a viscosity of 1.00mPas (milli-Pascal-second), whereas normal plasma at 37C may have a viscosity of around 1.7mPas . The higher the result, the “stickier” the blood is. Increased blood levels of certain proteins, such as fibrinogen, which is increased in inflammation, or immunoglobulins, which are increased in inflammation or secreted by some tumours, cause the plasma viscosity to rise.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in your arm.

NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.

Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed.

The Test

Common Questions

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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.