Serological testing for the hepatitis A virus is used to detect recent or previous exposure to the virus or the existence of hepatitis A virus immunity.
Hepatitis A virus (HAV) - formerly called infectious hepatitis - has a short incubation period of 2 to 6 weeks and is highly contagious. During acute infection, the hepatitis A virus is excreted in the feces and transmitted through the fecal-oral route by contamination of food and drink. Most hepatitis A infections are not associated with serious enough symptoms to warrant medical evaluation and intervention. When hepatitis A is suspected, the test of total antibodies (IgG and IgM) or IgM alone against the hepatitis A virus is usually used.
The first antibodies appearing are IgM (Anti-HAV IgM), about 3 to 4 weeks after exposure to the virus, or shortly before serum elevation of hepatic enzymes occur. These IgM antibodies usually return to normal in about 8 weeks. The next antibody class against HAV that is elevated is IgG, which appears about 2 weeks after IgM increase. IgG antibodies may remain detectable for more than 10 years after infection. If IgM antibodies are elevated in the absence of IgG antibodies, acute hepatitis is likely. If, however, IgG is elevated in the absence of elevated IgM antibodies, then the patient may be in recovery or have a chronic hepatitis A infection.
Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".
Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.
At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.