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Factor VIII assay

Definition

The factor VIII assay is a blood test that measures the activity of factor VIII -- one of the substances involved in blood clotting (coagulation).

Alternative Names

Plasma factor VIII antigen

How the test is performed

A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture

How to prepare for the test

No special preparation is needed for this test.

How the test will feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed

This test is used to find the cause of too much bleeding (decreased blood clotting), or if a family member is known to have hemophilia A. The test may also be done to see how well treatment for hemophilia A is working.

Normal Values

A normal value is 50 - 200% of the laboratory control or reference value.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What abnormal results mean

Decreased levels may be due to:

Increased levels may be due to:

  • Advanced age
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Inflammation
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity

What the risks are

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

This test is most often performed on people who have bleeding problems. The risk of excessive bleeding is slightly greater for people with bleeding problems than for people without bleeding problems.

Special considerations

When you bleed, the body launches a series of activities that help the blood clot. This is called the coagulation cascade. The process involves special proteins called coagulation factors (factor VIII is a coagulation factor).

Each factor's reaction triggers the next reaction. The final product of the coagulation cascade is the blood clot. Blood clots may not form normally if any one of the clotting factors is abnormally low.

References

Kessler C. Hemorrhagic disorders: Coagulation factor deficiencies. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 180.

Ragni MV, Kessler CM, Lozier JN. Clinical aspects and therapy for hemophilia. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr., Shattil SJ, et al, eds. Hoffman Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008:chap 125.


Review Date: 2/28/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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