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What is Fibrinogen test?

Fibrinogen is one of the clotting proteins present in the body. Produced by liver cells, it helps coagulate blood at the injury site to stop excessive bleeding. Fibrinogen also plays an essential role in controlling inflammation during injury and generation of new blood vessels.

Altered fibrinogen levels can hence lead to prolonged bleeding or cause clots inside blood vessels. These clots can then get detached and move to lungs or brain, risking an individual’s life.

Fibrinogen test, also known as factor I assay, fibrinogen antigen test, fibrinogen activity test and cardiac fibrinogen test measures the levels of fibrinogen in the blood.

  1. Why is Fibrinogen test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for a Fibrinogen test?
  3. How is a Fibrinogen test performed?
  4. What do Fibrinogen test results mean?

Your doctor may order a fibrinogen test if you get recurrent episodes of continuous bleeding or abnormal blood clot formation. Certain conditions that demand this test are as follows:

  • Family history of bleeding or clotting disorder such as inherited fibrinogen deficiency
  • Unexplained profuse bleeding
  • Abnormal blood tests such as prothrombin time and partial thromboplastin time
  • To detect the risk of liver diseases or kidney failure
  • To check the effect of medication used to dissolve blood clots
  • To evaluate the risk of cardiac diseases
  • If the following signs and symptoms related to disseminated intravascular coagulation are seen:
    • Blood in urine or stool
    • Bleeding from nose, gum or mouth
    • Bruises and formation of small red dots
    • Blackening of the skin due to poor blood flow to the skin
    • Chest pain due to a blood clot in the heart
    • Cough due to blood clotting in lungs

No special preparation is needed before the fibrinogen test. Fasting is not necessary either. Inform your doctor if you are taking any prescribed, non-prescribed, legal or illicit drugs. 

Women should avoid taking oestrogen supplements and oral contraceptives before this test as it may elevate the level of fibrinogen in their blood.

If you are consuming atenolol, cholesterol-lowering agents, corticosteroids, fluorouracil, progestin, thrombolytics, ticlopidine or valproic acid, you should inform your doctor as these medicines decrease fibrinogen levels in the body. However, do not skip any medication before consulting the doctor.

Before performing this test, your doctor or lab technician will explain the procedure to you. He/she will then draw a blood sample in the following manner:

  • The technician will clean the site of injection with an antiseptic solution
  • He/she will tie a tourniquet (elastic band) around your upper arm and ask you to make a tight fist. This will help locate the right vein for blood withdrawal
  • Then, he/she will insert a sterile needle and collect the required amount of blood sample
  • After the sample is collected, the band will be removed, and the sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing

The test procedure usually takes less than three minutes. When the needle is inserted, you may experience mild pain. People with bleeding problems are at a slightly greater risk of excessive bleeding than healthy people. Other risks associated with drawing a blood sample include the following:

  • Fainting
  • Blood accumulation under the skin
  • Excessive bleeding

Fibrinogen blood test results may differ based on the gender, age, method used for the test and health history. Consult your healthcare practitioner to interpret the results.

Normal results:

Typically, the normal levels of fibrinogen vary between 200 and 400 mg/dL. These values indicate that sufficient fibrinogen protein levels are present in the given blood sample.

Abnormal results:

When the level of fibrinogen is less than 50 mg/dL, it can indicate the following conditions:

A high fibrinogen level (more than 700 mg/dL) may indicate the following conditions:

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.

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References

  1. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; Factor I
  2. Luyendyk JP, Schoenecker JG, Flick MJ. The multifaceted role of fibrinogen in tissue injury and inflammation. Blood. 2019 Feb 7;133(6):511-520.
  3. Shiose S, Hata Y, Noda Y, Sassa Y, Takeda A, Yoshikawa H, et al. Fibrinogen stimulates in vitro angiogenesis by choroidal endothelial cells via autocrine VEGF. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2004 Sep; 242(9):777-783.
  4. Merck Manual Professional Version [Internet]. Kenilworth (NJ): Merck & Co. Inc.; c2019. Overview of Hemostasis
  5. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services, Diagnosis of Hemophilia
  6. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Fibrinogen blood test
  7. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. National Institute of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Diseases
  8. Okamoto K, et al. Sepsis and disseminated intravascular coagulation. J Intensive Care. 2016;4:23.
  9. Wilson D, McGraw-Hill’s Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Test, 2008. The Mc Graw Hills companies Inc., Pp:262,263.
  10. Pai M. Laboratory Evaluation of Hemostatic and Thrombotic Disorders. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Silberstein LE, et al., eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier. 2018. Chap 129.
  11. Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Fibrinogen (Factor I) - Plasma. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders. 2013. Pp:525.
  12. National Health Service [internet]. UK; Blood Tests