Skip to main content

Cryoglobulin Test

Cryoglobulin Test

Definition

Cryoglobulin is an abnormal blood protein associated with several diseases. Testing for cryoglobulin is done when a person has symptoms of this protein or is being evaluated for one of the associated diseases.

Purpose

Cryoglobulin clumps in cold temperatures. This physical characteristic causes people with cryoglobulin to have symptoms during cold weather: blanching, numbness, and pain in their fingers or toes (Raynaud's phenomenon); bleeding into the skin (purpura); and pain in joints (arthralgia). People with these symptoms or any other symptoms that appear in cold weather should be tested for cryoglobulin.

Diseases that cause the body to make extra or abnormal proteins are often associated with cryoglobulin. These diseases include cancers involving white blood cells, infections, autoimmune disorders, and rheumatoid diseases.

This test provides information about the cause of symptoms in a person who already has a disease process. It does not diagnose a specific disease or monitor the course of a disease.

Precautions

This test is not a screening test for disease in a person without symptoms.

Description

Laboratory testing for cryoglobulin is based on the fact that cryoglobulin clumps when cooled and dissolves when warmed. The test is done on a person's serum (the yellow liquid part of blood that separates from the cells after the blood clots ). The serum is kept warm from the time drawn until the cells and the serum are separated in the laboratory. The serum is placed at 33.8°F (1°C) for one to seven days. If there is clumping, cryoglobulins are present. The amount of cryoglobulins is determined by measuring the amount of clumping. Negative tests are checked through seven days.

Additional testing is done to find out what kind of cryoglobulin protein is present. There are three kinds of cryoglobulin, each associated with different diseases.

The test, also called the cold sensitivity antibodies test, is covered by insurance when medically necessary. Results are usually available the following day.

Preparation

This test requires 15-20 mL of blood. A healthcare worker ties a tourniquet on the person's upper arm, locates a vein in the inner elbow region, and inserts a needle into that vein. Vacuum action draws the blood through the needle into an attached tube. Collection of the sample takes only a few minutes. The blood must be kept warm, at body temperature, until the laboratory can separate the cells from the serum.

Aftercare

Discomfort or bruising may occur at the puncture site or the person may feel dizzy or faint. Pressure to the puncture site until the bleeding stops reduces bruising. Warm packs to the puncture site relieve discomfort.

Normal results

Negative or absent.

Abnormal results

If the person has cryoglobulin, the amount is reported. Larger amounts of cryoglobulin are associated with cancers or abnormalities involving white blood cells, moderate amounts are associated with autoimmune disorders and rheumatoid diseases, and smaller amounts are associated with infections.

The type of cryoglobulin is also reported. Type I cryoglobulin, also called monoclonal cryoglobulinemia, is found in cancers or abnormalities of white blood cells. Type II, also called mixed cryoglobulinemia, is associated with autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid diseases, and infections, particularly chronic hepatitis B.

The physician must interpret the cryoglobulin result along with other test results and the patient's clinical condition and medical history.

Resources

BOOKS

Pagana, Kathleen Deska. Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests. St. Louis: Mosby, Inc., 1998.

KEY TERMS

Cryoglobulin An abnormal blood protein associated with several diseases. It is characterized by its tendency to clump in cold temperatures.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Cryoglobulin Test." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Cryoglobulin Test." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cryoglobulin-test

"Cryoglobulin Test." Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 3rd ed.. . Retrieved November 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/cryoglobulin-test

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.