QS Study

Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)

Definition: When the blood is mixed with a suitable anticoagulant and is made to stand vertically, red blood corpuscles settle down to the bottom. The rate at which this sedimentation of red cells takes place is known as erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). It is a blood test that can expose inflammatory action in your body. It can help your physician analyze or check the development of an inflammatory disease.

Normal count:

Westergren method-

  • Male: 0 to 6 mm in the 1st hour.
  • Female: 0 to 12 mm in the 1st hour.

Wintrobe method

  • Male: 0 to 12 mm in the 1st hour
  • Female: 0 to 18 mm in the 1st hour.

Importance of ESR

(a) To see the prognosis of the disease.

(b) To assay the condition of some chronic inflammatory diseases, such as –

  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Coronary thrombosis
  • Rheumatic arthritis
  • Carcinoma.

(c) To see the therapaeutic effects of drugs.

ESR is low or decreased in: (1) Polycythaemia, (2) Sickle cell anaemia (due to the abnormal shape of sickle cells which prevents rouleaux formation).

ESR may as high as 100 mm or more in the first hour in: Advanced pulmonary tuberculosis, Acute rheumatic fever, Collagen diseases, Multiple myeloma.

Risks of the ESR Test- Possible complications include: Excessive bleeding, fainting, hematoma, or bruising, infection, inflammation of the vein, lightheadedness etc.