Alternate Names : Serum Total Protein
A total protein test measures the total amount of protein in the blood. There are two major types of proteins in the blood: albumin and globulin. A change in the level of either type of protein may cause an abnormal total protein value.
Who is a candidate for the test?
Total protein may be measured for many different reasons. For example, a healthcare provider may measure total protein if he or she suspects or finds:
abnormal swelling in the body
certain types of blood cancer
nutritional problems, including malnutrition
How is the test performed?
To measure total protein in the bloodstream, a blood sample is needed. Blood is usually taken from a vein on the forearm or hand. First, the skin over the vein is cleaned with an antiseptic. Next, a strong rubber tube, or tourniquet, is wrapped around the upper arm. This enlarges the veins in the lower arm by restricting blood flow through them. A fine needle is gently inserted into a vein, and the tourniquet is removed. Blood flows from the vein through the needle and is collected in a syringe or vial. The blood is then sent to the laboratory for testing. After the needle is withdrawn, the puncture site is covered for a short time to prevent bleeding.