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Acute Hepatitis Panel with confirmation

Also Known As: Hepatitis Screening Panel, Acute Hepatitis Panel, Viral Hepatitis Panel

What Is A Hepatitis Panel, Acute With Reflex To Confirmation Test?

A hepatitis panel test is a form of a blood test generally used as a marker of hepatitis infection. Hepatitis is a kind of liver inflammation or liver disease. Different viruses known as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are the most common causes of this condition. This blood test is performed to check if a person has hepatitis infection due to one of these viruses. The test involved different hepatitis tests. Some look for antibodies or proteins that the body makes to fight off the infection. Others are for antigens or genetic material (RNA or DNA) of the viruses causing hepatitis. This panel test is for:

  • Hepatitis A IgM antibodies and IgG antibodies
  • Hepatitis B surface antigen
  • Hepatitis B surface antibody
  • Hepatitis B IgM core antibody and IgG core antibody
  • Hepatitis B type-E antigenHepatitis C antibodies

The hepatitis virus spreads in a vast number of ways while causing different types of symptoms:

Hepatitis A is often spread when a person comes in contact with contaminated feces or stool. It can also occur by eating contaminated food. Though rare, it can also be due to unprotected sexual contact with an infected person. Most people with hepatitis recover soon without experiencing any long-lasting liver damage.
Hepatitis B, on the other hand, occurs through contact with infected semen, blood, and other body fluids. It is easy to recover from hepatitis b infection, but it can cause chronic liver diseases. Hepatitis C is primarily due to infected blood or by sharing hypodermic needles. It can also occur due to sexual contact with an infected person bed and may cause chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis.

What Is The Test Used For?

The main purpose or objective of the hepatitis panel test is to check your blood for the presence of Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C, some of the most common types of viral hepatitis infection. The panel testing can also help your doctor identify and diagnose early infections linked to hepatitis A and B and understand whether you have been infected with Hepatitis C at some point in your life.

The hepatitis panel also detects acute, or short-term infections with Hepatitis A or B and chronic infections with Hepatitis B. Chronic Hepatitis B occurs less frequently than acute hepatitis. Still, the effects can last for years and harm the liver. With time, chronic hepatitis can also lead to further complications like liver scarring (cirrhosis), liver cancer, and liver failure.

This test is a combination of several tests against the measurement of antigens and antibodies. Antibodies are substances produced by your immune system in response to a viral infection, whereas antigens are foreign substances like the virus's proteins. Hepatitis panel test looks for antigens or antibodies of Hepatitis A, B, and C.

  • For Hepatitis A Testing

The hepatitis panel for testing hepatitis A looks for IgM anti-HAV antibodies that are easy to detect if you are developing symptoms and still detectable for up to 6 months.

  • For Hepatitis B Testing

While testing for Hepatitis B, the hepatitis panel test includes a series of tests detecting hepatitis B surface antigen and IgM hepatitis B core antibodies. The hepatitis B surface antigens are discernable from 1-10 weeks after exposure before the appearance of the symptoms. They remain detectable for up to 6 months in people already recovered from acute infection. The IGM hepatitis B core antibodies are noticeable for up to 2 years after an acute infection, enduring flare-ups as well. If your doctor suspects chronic Hepatitis B, he may ask for follow-up testing to prepare a treatment plan.

  • For Hepatitis C Testing

As a part of the hepatitis panel test, the Hepatitis C analysis looks for the presence of antibodies in response to the Hepatitis C virus in the bloodstream. These antibodies are detectable 4-10 weeks after infection, where the positive result tests are followed by other tests measuring the amount of genetic material of the Hepatitis C virus.

Why And When Do You Need A Hepatitis Panel, Acute With Reflex To Confirmation Test?

Your doctor or health care provider will ask for a hepatitis panel test if you show symptoms related to liver damage. Some of the signs and symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice, a condition in which your eyes and skin turn yellow
  • Pale colored stool
  • Fever
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite

You might also need to go through a hepatitis panel test if you are showing certain risk factors. 
You are at a higher risk of developing hepatitis infection:

  • If you are experiencing a sexually transmitted disease
  • If you use illegal injectable drugs
  • If you are in close contact with an infected person
  • People who are on long-term dialysis

What Kind Of Sample Is Required For The Test?

A Hepatitis panel test is performed only after getting a recommendation from a doctor. This test requires one blood sample on which multiple tests are executed. Your lab technician will take blood samples in a lab, hospital, or other medical setting. They will draw a blood sample from your vein, and after collection, it will be sent to a laboratory for further analysis.

Do You Need To Prepare For The Test?

There is no special preparation needed before taking the hepatitis panel test.

Are There Any Risks To This Test?

After the blood draw is finished, the lab technician will put a bandage or piece of gauze over the puncture site with light pressure to stop the bleeding. You might experience slight tenderness and bruise at the site, but it will go away quickly.

What Do The Test Results Mean?

Results for hepatitis panel tests are usually reliable, but you cannot always be sure of a conclusive result.

If the test results are negative and the hepatitis panel cannot identify any antibodies or antigens, you are highly unlikely to have hepatitis infection. However, it is important to note here that there is a time window after you first contract the virus. It is this time that the blood test is unable to detect any antigen or antibody level as they are extremely low. This window period is 3-4 weeks for HAV, 2-6 weeks for HBV, and 12 weeks for HCV.

A positive result appears if the hepatitis panel catches antigens or antibodies for a specific hepatitis virus. It will mean that you either have an active infection or had one in the past. The hepatitis antibodies can still be present in the blood even after the infection, so the test results can confirm that you had liver inflammation at some point in your life.

Related Tests: Hepatitis A Test, Hepatitis B Test, Hepatitis C Test, Liver Panel

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