Antibody Screening Test
Also called the indirect Coombs' test, the antibody screening test detects unexpected circulating antibodies in the patient's serum. After incubating the serum with group O red cells, which are unaffected by anti-A or anti-B antibodies, an antiglobulin (Coombs') serum is added. Agglutination occurs if the patient's serum contains an antibody to one or more antigens on the red cells.
The antibody screening test detects 95% to 99% of the circulating antibodies. After this screening procedure detects them, the antibody identification test can determine the specific identity of the antibodies present.
Procedure and posttest care
Normally, agglutination does not occur, indicating that the patient's serum contains no circulating antibodies other than anti-A or anti-B.
A positive result indicates the presence of unexpected circulating antibodies to red cell antigens. Such a reaction demonstrates donor and recipient incompatibility.
A positive result in a pregnant patient with Rh-negative blood may indicate the presence of antibodies to the Rh factor from an earlier transfusion with incompatible blood or from a previous pregnancy with an Rh-positive fetus.
A positive result indicates that the fetus may develop hemolytic disease of the newborn. As a result, repeated testing throughout the pregnancy is necessary to evaluate progressive development of circulating antibody levels.
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