Pathology Laboratory


Last updated on October 25th, 2022 at 07:54 am

ELISA tests are used to diagnose various diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, etc. ELISA stands for Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay. It’s a method used to detect antibodies or antigens in blood samples.

What is an ELISA test?

An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, also called ELISA or EIA, is a laboratory test that detects and measures antibodies in your blood. This test can determine if you have antibodies related to certain infectious conditions. Antibodies are proteins that your body produces in response to harmful substances called antigens.

ELISA test full form

enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, also called ELISA or EIA.

What all diseases ELISA test is used to detect?

An ELISA test is used for the diagnosis of;

  • HIV, which causes AIDS
  • Lyme disease
  • pernicious anaemia
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • rotavirus
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • syphilis
  • toxoplasmosis
  • varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and shingles
  • Zika virus

ELISA test is often used as a screening tool before more in-depth tests are advised. A doctor may suggest this test if you’re having signs or symptoms of the conditions above. Your doctor may also refer to the ELISA test if they want to rule out any of these conditions.

How is the ELISA test performed?

The ELISA test is simple. You’ll probably need to sign a consent form (sometimes), and your doctor should explain the reason for doing the ELISA test.

The ELISA test involves taking a sample of your blood. First, a lab technician will cleanse your arm with an antiseptic. Then, a tourniquet, or band, will be applied around your arm to create pressure and cause your veins to swell with blood. Next, a needle will be placed in one of your veins to draw a small sample of blood. When enough blood has been collected, the needle will be removed and a small bandage will be placed on your arm where the needle was. You’ll be asked to maintain pressure at the site where the needle was inserted for a few minutes to reduce blood flow.

This procedure should be relatively painless, but your arm may throb a little after it’s done.

The blood sample will be sent to a laboratory’s processing room for analysis. In the test processing lab, a lab technician will add the sample to a petri dish containing the specific antigen related to the condition for which you are being tested. If your blood contains antibodies to the antigen, the two will bind. The lab technician will check this by adding an enzyme to the petri dish and observing how your blood and the antigen react.

You may have the condition if the contents of the dish change colour. How much change the enzyme causes allows the lab technician to determine the presence and amount of antibody.

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How do I prepare for the ELISA test?

There’s no special preparation for this test. The blood draw lasts only a few moments and is mildly uncomfortable. Tell your lab technician if you have a fear of needles or become lightheaded or faint at the sight of blood or needles.

Are there any risks of the ELISA blood test?

Usually, there is no risk for doing an ELISA test, there are very few risks associated with withdrawing the blood sample for the ELISA test. These include;

  • infection
  • feeling faint
  • bruising
  • bleeding more than usual

Tell your doctor and laboratory manager before the test if you’ve had trouble giving blood in the past, bruise easily, or have a bleeding disorder such as haemophilia.

What do the ELISA test results mean?

How the test results are reported varies based on the laboratory that conducts the analysis. It also depends on the condition for which you’re being tested. Your doctor should discuss your ELISA test results and what they mean. Sometimes, a positive result will mean that you don’t have the condition.

False positives and false negatives can occur. 

  • A false-positive result shows you have a condition when you don’t. 
  • A false-negative result shows you don’t have a condition when you do. 

Because of this, you may be asked to repeat the ELISA in a few weeks, or your doctor may advise more sensitive tests to confirm or refute the results.

Although the ELISA test itself is relatively simple, waiting for the results or being screened for conditions such as HIV (ELISA test for HIV) can cause a lot of anxiety. It’s important to remember that no one can force you to take the test. It’s voluntary. Make sure that you understand the laws in your state or the policy of the healthcare facility, e.g. pathology lab, doctor’s clinic, for reporting positive HIV results.

Discuss the test with your lab manager and doctor. Remember that diagnosing any possible infectious disease is the first step toward getting treatment and protecting others from the infection.

You may also interest in reading: Liver Cirrhosis

Reference: Healthline

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