General Practice 2022

VHS exam: what é, what it is for and reference valuesê

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VHS exam: what é, what it is for and reference valuesê
VHS exam: what é, what it is for and reference valuesê

The VHS test, or Blood Sedimentation Speed ​​or Red Blood Cell Sedimentation Speed, is a blood test widely used to detect some inflammation or infection in the body, which can indicate anything from a simple cold, bacterial infections, to inflammatory diseases like arthritis or acute pancreatitis, for example.

This test measures the speed of separation between red blood cells and plasma, which is the liquid part of the blood, by the action of gravity. Thus, when there is an inflammatory process in the bloodstream, proteins are formed that decrease blood viscosity and accelerate the rate of erythrocyte sedimentation, resulting in a high ESR, which is usually above 15 mm in manand 20 mm in women

In this way, the ESR is a very sensitive test, as it can easily detect inflammation, but it is not very specific, that is, it is not able to indicate the type, location or severity of inflammation or infection that occurs in the body. Therefore, the ESR levels must be evaluated by the doctor, who will identify the cause according to the clinical evaluation and the performance of other tests, such as CRP, which also indicates inflammation or blood count, for example.

What is it for

The ESR test is used to identify or evaluate any type of inflammation or infection in the body. Your result can identify:

1. High VHS

The situations that normally increase the ESR are viral or bacterial infections, such as flu, sinusitis, tonsillitis, pneumonia, urinary tract infection or diarrhea, for example. However, it is widely used to evaluate and control the evolution of some diseases that change the result more significantly, such as:

  • Polymyalgia rheumatica which is an inflammatory disease of the muscles;
  • Temporal arteritis which is an inflammatory disease of blood vessels;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis which is an inflammatory disease of the joints;
  • Vasculitis, which are inflammation of the blood vessel wall;
  • Osteomyelitis which is an infection of the bones;
  • Tuberculosis which is an infectious disease;
  • Cancer.

In addition, it is important to remember that any situation that changes the dilution or composition of the blood can change the test result. Some examples are pregnancy, diabetes, obesity, heart failure, kidney failure, alcoholism, thyroid disorders or anemia.

2. VHS low

Low VHS scan usually does not indicate changes. However, it is important to remember that there are situations that can keep the ESR abnormally low, and confuse the detection of inflammation or infection. Some of these situations are:

  • Polycythemia, which is an increase in blood cells;
  • Severe leukocytosis, which is an increase in white blood cells in the blood;
  • Use of corticosteroids;
  • Hypofibrinogenia, which is a blood clotting disorder;
  • Hereditary spherocytosis which is a type of anemia that is passed from parents to children.

In this way, the doctor should always see the value of the VHS exam and analyze it according to the person's clinical history, as its result is not always compatible with the he alth situation of the person being evaluated. The doctor may also use newer and more specific tests, such as PCR, which usually more specifically indicates situations such as infection. Find out what it is and how the PCR test is performed.

How it's done

To perform the ESR test, the laboratory will collect a blood sample, which is placed in a closed container, and then it will be evaluated how long it takes for red blood cells to separate from the plasma and settle to the bottom of the container.

So, after 1 hour or 2 hours, this deposition will be measured, in millimeters, so the result is given in mm/h. To take the VHS exam, no preparation is necessary, and fasting is not mandatory.

Reference values

The VHS benchmark values ​​are different for men, women or children.

    In men

    • in 1h - up to 15 mm;
    • in 2h - up to 20 mm.
  • On women:
    • in 1h - up to 20 mm;
    • in 2h - up to 25 mm.
  • In children:
  • values ​​between 3 - 13 mm

Currently, the values ​​of the VHS exam in the first hour are the most important, that's why they are the most used.

The more intense the inflammation, the more the ESR can rise, and rheumatologic diseases and cancer can cause inflammation so severe that they are capable of increasing the ESR above 100 mm/h.

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