Acute Viral Hepatitis Panel : labtest

Why Get Tested?
To detect and diagnose an infection with a hepatitis virus
When to Get Tested?
When you have symptoms of hepatitis and a viral infection is suspected to be the cause; when you have been exposed to one or more of the three most common hepatitis viruses: Hepatitis A, B, or C
Sample Required?
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm

How is it used?
An acute hepatitis panel is used to help detect and/or diagnose an acute liver infection due to one of the three most common hepatitis viruses: Hepatitis A virus (HAV), Hepatitis B virus (HBV), or Hepatitis C virus (HCV). There are several causes of hepatitis and the accompanying symptoms, so these tests are used to determine if symptoms are due to a current infection with a virus and to identify which virus in particular is causing the disease. These tests may also help determine if someone has been exposed to one of the viruses even before symptoms develop. An acute hepatitis panel typically consists of the following tests:
Hepatitis A antibody, IgM—If you are exposed to Hepatitis A, your body will first produce Hepatitis A IgM antibodies. These antibodies typically develop 2 to 3 weeks after first being infected and persist for about 2 to 6 months. Hepatitis A IgM antibodies develop early in the course of infection, so a positive Hepatitis A IgM test is usually considered diagnostic for acute Hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B core antibody, IgM—This is an antibody produced against the Hepatitis B core antigen. It is the first antibody produced in response to a Hepatitis B infection and, when detected, may indicate an acute infection. It may also be present in people with chronic hepatitis B when flares of disease activity occur.
Hepatitis B surface Ag—This is a protein present on the surface of the Hepatitis B virus. It is the earliest indicator of an acute infection but may also be present in the blood of those chronically infected.
Hepatitis C antibody—This test detects antibodies produced in response to an HCV infection. It cannot distinguish between an active or previous infection. If positive, it is typically followed up with other tests to determine is the infection is a current one. (See the article on Hepatitis C for more on this.)
In acute hepatitis, other tests such as a liver panel or individual tests such as bilirubin, ALT, and AST, may be performed to help diagnose the condition.

There are some other tests that may be offered as part of a hepatitis panel, depending on the laboratory performing the tests. These may include:

HAV antibody, total and HBV core antibody, total—These tests detect both IgM and IgG antibodies and may be used as part of the panel to determine if someone has had a previous infection.
HBV surface antibody—The test for this antibody may sometimes be included in a panel to help determine if an infection has resolved or if a person has developed the antibody after receiving the hepatitis B vaccine and achieved immunity for protection against HBV.

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