Other names: Factor I

Fibrinogen is a coagulation factor, which is a type of protein, which is involved in the clotting process. Factors are activated in a stage by stage process when the body starts to bleed; this is known as the coagulation cascade. Fibrinogen is produced by the liver. When the coagulation cascade is nearly complete, the fibrinogen is converted into insoluble fibrin threads, which make up the net-like structure which holds the blood clot in place.

When is the test used?

The test is used to assess how well the body can form and break down blood clots; it is often carried out alongside other tests. The test can also be used to help diagnose DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation) and it may sometimes be ordered (with other tests) to assess risk of cardiovascular disease.

The test is usually ordered when a patient has an unexplained or prolonged bleed and the results of their PT (prothrombin time) test came back as abnormal. The test may also be ordered if a doctor suspects that a patient has DIC; symptoms include nausea, bleeding gums, vomiting, muscular pain and seizures.

How is the test done?

The test is carried out by taking a sample of blood from a vein in the patient’s arm; a needle is inserted into the arm and the blood is drawn out and collected by a syringe. Once the sample has been collected, it will be bottled, labelled with the patient’s name and sent away to the laboratory for testing.

What do the test results show?

The levels of fibrinogen in the blood give doctors an idea of the body’s ability to form blood clots. Normal levels indicate that there should not be a problem with clotting, while low levels may indicate that the ability to form clots may be impaired. If levels are consistently low, this may be due to liver disease or malnutrition.

In most cases, high levels of fibrinogen are temporary; there are many possible causes including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, other forms of cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, injury or trauma and inflammatory diseases.

Specific Blood Tests

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