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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Tests and Exams > Hemoglobin


Alternate Names : Serum Hemoglobin, Total Hemoglobin

Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Results and Values

Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells. It carries oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout the body, and carries carbon dioxide from the cells to the lungs. A hemoglobin test measures the level of this protein in a sample of blood.

Who is a candidate for the test?

Often, this test is done as part of a complete blood count, or CBC. Or it may be done:

  • during pregnancy
  • during infancy
  • when a person has symptoms of anemia, such as lack of energy, pale skin, and shortness of breath
  • when a person is being treated for anemia
  • when family history or ethnic or racial background puts a person at risk for a blood disorder. Examples include hemoglobin disorders, sickle cell disease, and thalassemia.
  • How is the test performed?

    Blood for the test is usually taken from a person's forearm. First, a tight band is put on the upper arm to make the veins swell below it. An area of skin on the forearm over the vein chosen is cleansed. Then a needle is inserted into the vein and a sample of blood is collected in a tube.

    Occasionally blood is taken from another site, such as a finger or heel. If so, the skin is cleansed and pricked with a sharp tool called a lancet. Drops of blood are collected in a tiny tube. The blood is analyzed at a lab.


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    Hemoglobin: Preparation & Expectations

    Author: Francesca Coltrera, BA
    Reviewer: Adam Brochert, MD
    Date Reviewed: 09/24/01

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