Osmotic Fragility Test — Its Usage, Procedure and Test Result Interpretation

An osmotic fragility test is usually done to diagnose two primary hereditary conditions — thalassemia and spherocytosis. While the former causes the body to produce a typical form of hemoglobin, the later causes problem with the red blood cells by disrupting their normal shapes. Thalassemia and Spherocytosis often lead to anaemia.

Why is the test recommended?

An osmotic fragility test for spherocytosis or thalassemia is often recommended for infants who speak of a family history of any of these hereditary diseases. It’s a quick way to diagnose an issue rather than rely on genetic tests. The test may also be recommended to diagnose the symptoms of anemia, including:-

· Fatigue

· Dizziness

· Shortness of breath, and

· Severely cold feet and hands

How is the test performed?

Osmotic fragility test procedure is quite simple. During this test, a technician wraps a strap around a healthy visible vein. Then she/he extracts a few millilitres of blood through a vein-puncture process and stores the drawn blood in sterilized test tubes. These are then forwarded to the laboratory for the purpose of examination and analysis. The bruised site is bandaged to avoid any kind of complications.

How to interpret the test results?

During the analysis process, a technician closely examines the shape of the red blood cells and look for the presence of abnormalities. To check the fragility of the RBCs he/she may add them to different solutions with varying salt concentrations. Osmotic fragility test normal values suggest that the cells can stay intact even at low salt concentrations than those which are fragile in nature.

If cells are found fragile, it means that patient either has thalassemia and spherocytosis. Both the conditions are known to be the cause of haemolytic anemia ailment. It’s a form that’s known to occur when the red blood cells are damaged too easily and quickly.

Thalassemia and spherocytosis showcase different symptoms in different individuals. While some experience mild symptoms, many others witness severe forms that call for immediate treatment or the chances of loss of live increase to manifold.

Many health checkup packages in Greater Noida and other cities of India, as offered by a plethora of diagnostic chains, include osmotic fragility test. If in case it’s not a part of the package, many path labs give buyers the option of adding this test service to the package at an addition of a nominal cost.