BSE sedimentation rate
The sedimentation rate (BSE) test measures the rate at which red blood cells sink down into a blood tube. BSE provides information about the presence and activity of inflammation or infection in the body.
In English this test is known as Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
When a tube of blood is held upright, it can be seen that the red cells slowly sink downward. It has been shown that in people with inflammation, red blood cells drop faster than in healthy people. This is caused by a changed composition of proteins in the blood as a result of the inflammation. There are then more defense proteins (immunoglobulins) and coagulation proteins (fibrinogen) present in the blood.
In addition to the BSE, the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP) in blood is often measured nowadays. This protein is produced during inflammation and infections. The CRP test appears to respond much faster to infections than the sedimentation rate. In addition, CRP is less influenced by interfering factors, so changes in CRP can be more emphatically attributed to an improvement or worsening of an infection or inflammation.
What does the result mean?
The result of just a BSE test does not give that much information. In general, BSE is slightly higher in women than in men. Abnormal results must be evaluated in conjunction with the patient's symptoms. Normal values do not in themselves guarantee that nothing is wrong. Normal values of BSE do not exclude a disease.
Normal values of BSE
age normal value newborn
0-2 mm/hr child
< 10 years 3-13 mm/hr woman
< 50 years < 20 mm/hr woman
> 50 years < 30 mm/hr pregnant
3rd trimester < 30 mm/hr man
< 50 years < 15 mm/hr man
> 50 years < 20 mm/hr A
slightly elevated BSE (a result smaller than 2 times the normal value) can fit different situations like inflammation, old age. In women, BSE can be elevated due to menstruation or pregnancy.
Highly elevated BSE can occur in cases of inflammation or production of immune globulins (Kahler's disease or Waldenstrom's disease) and in patients with rheumatism or temporal arteritis.