Blood tests are used to diagnose and monitor many different health conditions. One or more small vials of blood is taken and studied in various ways to get information about what is happening inside your child’s body.
By examining the different kinds of cells, chemicals and proteins in the blood, your child's doctor gains a better understanding of your child’s health and how the different organs in the body are functioning. Blood tests also help determine the reasons behind a variety of symptoms, including unexplained bruises, tiredness and inflammation. Most blood tests take just a few minutes.
What to Expect
What to Expect
Blood tests are typically performed on an outpatient basis. They require a needle stick, so it is a good idea to prepare your child by reminding him or her that the procedure is not painful. He or she may feel a pinch at the site where the needle is inserted or may feel nothing at all. Most blood tests only take a couple of minutes to complete.
You can expect the following:
- Your child will sit in a comfortable chair with an arm rest.
- He or she will be asked to place the right or left arm on the arm rest with the palm of his or her hand facing up.
- The phlebotomist (the person who draws blood for the blood test) will tie an elastic band around the upper arm to help find a vein. The band may feel a little tight, but it should not hurt.
- Your child may be asked to squeeze his or her hand, which will also help the phlebotomist find a vein.
- Once the vein is found, the phlebotomist will clean the area where the needle will be inserted with alcohol.
- The phlebotomist will then insert the needle and begin drawing blood into a vial. Some blood tests require several vials.
- The needle will be removed, and a bandage will be placed over the area where the needle was inserted.
The vials of blood will be sent to a laboratory where they will be tested. Your child's doctor will call you when he or she has received the blood test results.
Types of Blood Tests
Types of Blood Tests
Common blood tests performed by doctors at Riley at IU Health include:
- Complete blood count (CBC). A complete blood count (CBC) measures the three main components of blood: red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The test is used as part of a routine checkup and to check for abnormalities in the making or destruction of red blood cells, acute or chronic infections, allergies, blood clotting problems and blood loss.
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). An erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), or sed rate test, is a way to measure inflammation in the body caused by infections, some cancers and some autoimmune conditions. The test measures how fast red blood cells fall to the bottom of a long tube.
- C-reactive protein (CRP). A C-reactive protein (CRP) blood test can identify inflammation or infection. When an infection or inflammation from conditions such as autoimmune conditions or inflammatory bowel disease is present, CRP levels rise quickly. A CRP blood test also helps your child's doctor see if a treatment is working, as CRP levels tend to drop quickly when inflammation goes away.
Doctors at Riley at IU Health also perform a range of gastrointestinal blood tests. Your child's gastroenterologist may order one or more of the following tests to gain a clearer understanding of how the organs in your child's gastrointestinal system are working and to help diagnose specific conditions:
- Bilirubin. A bilirubin blood test measures the levels of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is formed when old red blood cells naturally break down. It is a yellow fluid that is part of bile, which breaks down fats. Normally, bilirubin is removed from the blood by the liver. When that does not happen, elevated levels of bilirubin can make the skin appear yellow. This is a condition called jaundice.
- Celiac disease antibody. A celiac disease antibody blood test is used to determine if your child has celiac disease. This test checks for the presence of antibodies, called TTG proteins, in the blood. If the blood work shows high levels of TTG antibodies, additional tests such as an upper endoscopy and biopsy often are performed.
- Blood chemistry. A chemistry blood test shows how organs such as the liver and kidney are functioning and checks your child’s nutritional status. Chemistry blood tests include basic metabolic panel (BMP) tests and comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) tests. A BMP and CMP checks the blood levels of electrolytes, including bicarbonate, chloride, potassium and sodium, and other substances, such as blood urea nitrogen, creatinine and glucose, to get an overall picture of a patient’s nutrition level.