This test is used to detect the presence of antibodies to Coxiella burnetii in the blood.
How the test is performed
Blood is drawn from a vein (venipuncture), usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The puncture site is cleaned with antiseptic, and a tourniquet (an elastic band) or blood pressure cuff is placed around the upper arm to apply pressure and restrict blood flow through the vein. This causes veins below the tourniquet to distend (fill with blood).
A needle is inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected in an airtight vial or a syringe. During the procedure, the tourniquet is removed to restore circulation. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
Infant or young child:
The area is cleansed with antiseptic and punctured with a sharp needle or a lancet. The blood may be collected in a pipette (small glass tube), on a slide, onto a test strip, or into a small container. Cotton or a bandage may be applied to the puncture site if there is any continued bleeding.
Serology refers to the study of serum for its antibody content. An antibody defends the body against bacteria, viruses, fungus, or other foreign bodies (antigens). Certain microbial cells stimulate the body to produce these antibodies during an active infection. Antibody production increases during the course of an infection.
In the initial stage of an illness, few antibodies may be detected. For this reason, serology tests are often repeated several weeks after the initial sample. In the laboratory, the antibodies react with antigens in specific ways that can be used to confirm the identity of a specific microorganism.
There are several serology techniques that can be used depending on the suspected antibodies. Serology techniques include agglutination, precipitation, complement-fixation, and fluorescent antibodies.
How to prepare for the test
No special preparation is necessary for this test.
Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child’s age, interests, previous experiences, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child’s age:
- infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)
- toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)
- preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)
- schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)
- adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)
How the test will feel
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the test is performed
The test is performed to detect Q fever, which is caused by the rickettsia (atypical bacteria) C. burnetii.
The presence of no antibody to C. burnetii is normal. People with past exposure may have antibodies, even if they are not aware that they were exposed.
What abnormal results mean
Abnormal results show a rise in the antibody titer, which indicates possible Q fever.
What the risks are
- excessive bleeding
- fainting or feeling light-headed
- hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
- infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
- multiple punctures to locate veins
Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
by Brenda A. Kuper, M.D.
All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.