Heterophil Antibody Titre

Other names: Heterophil Antibody Test; Mononucleosis Spot Test; Monospot Test; Mono Test; Mononuclear Heterophil Test;

The monospot test detects the presence of heterophil antibodies, which are forms of antibodies which react with cells from other species; the monospot test detects a reaction with red blood cells from horses. The antibodies are produced in response to the Epstein-Barr virus, which is associated with several types of infection but most commonly causes glandular fever (mononucleosis). Most patients (70-80%) with mononucleosis have heterophil antibodies.

When is the test used?

The test is used to diagnose infectious glandular fever (mononucleosis); the test can be a useful diagnostic tool for doctors but it is not always 100% accurate so further tests may be ordered.

The test is usually ordered when a doctor suspects that a patient has glandular fever; symptoms include tiredness, generally feeling unwell, headache, soaring temperature and swollen glands.

The test will not show a positive result until around two weeks after the patient has been infected by the Epstein-Barr virus.

How is the test done?

The test is performed by taking a sample of the patient’s blood from a vein in the arm; a needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is drawn out and collected in the syringe. Once the doctor or nurse has a sufficient sample, the blood will be placed in a bottle, labelled with the patient’s name and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

What do the test results show?

If the test result is positive and the patient has symptoms of mononucleosis (glandular fever), this usually indicates that the patient has an active infection and they will be diagnosed with infectious mononucleosis. The patient will usually have a higher white blood cell count.

If the test result is negative, this may mean that the body has not yet produced the heterophil antibodies or the patient may not be infected with mononucleosis; further testing may be required.

The presence of heterophil antibodies is usually not detected after 4 weeks and the test will then come back negative.

Specific Blood Tests

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