Hepatitis B Surface Antigen

Use: 
This test evaluates blood donors (HBsAg-positive individuals are rejected). Hepatitis B surface antigen is the earliest indicator of the presence of acute infection; it is also indicative of chronic infection. This test is useful in the differential diagnosis of hepatitis.
 

Limitations

Patients who are negative for HBsAg may still have acute type B viral hepatitis. There is sometimes a “core window” stage when HBsAg has become negative and the patient has not yet developed the antibody (anti-HBs). On such occasions, both tests for anti-HBc are usually positive and anti-HBc, IgM is the only specific marker for the diagnosis of acute infection with hepatitis B. In cases with strong clinical suspicion of viral hepatitis, serologic testing should not be limited to detecting HBsAg, but should include a battery of tests to evaluate different stages of acute and convalescent hepatitis.
Specimen Requirements: 

Type: Serum or plasma

Container/Tube: Red-top tube, gel-barrier tube or lavender-top tube (EDTA)
  • If a tube other than a gel-barrier tube is used, transfer the separated serum or plasma to a plastic transport tube.

Sample Volume: 3.5 mL

Minimum Volume: 1.5 mL (Repeat testing is not possible with this specimen volume.)

Storage: Refrigerate specimens immediately after collection.

Stability (collection to time of analysis/testing):
  • Ambient: 14 days
  • Refrigerated: 14 days
  • Frozen: 14 days
  • Freeze/Thaw Cycles: Stable (x 3)
Rejection Criteria:
  • Non-EDTA plasma specimen
  • PST gel-barrier tube
Reference Values: 
Negative
CPT Code (s): 
87340
Notes: 

UFHPL Test #: 78030

UFHPL Epic order code: LAB471

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a DNA virus with a protein coat, the surface antigen (HBsAg) and a nucleic acid core, the core antigen (HBcAg). There are eight different serotypes. Early in infection, HBsAg, HBV DNA, and DNA polymerase can all be detected in serum.

HBsAg can be detected one to seven weeks before liver enzyme elevation or the appearance of clinical symptoms. Three weeks after the onset of acute hepatitis, about 50 percent of patients will still be positive for HBsAg, while at 17 weeks only 10 percent are positive. The best available markers for infectivity are HBsAg and HBeAg. The presence of anti-HBs is frequently associated with noninfectivity. The chronic carrier state is indicated by the persistence of HBsAg and/or HBeAg over long periods (six months to years) without seroconversion to the corresponding antibodies. Such a condition has the potential to lead to serious liver damage, but may be an isolated asymptomatic serologic phenomenon.

Persistence of HBsAg, without anti-HBs, with combinations of positivity of anti-HBc, HBeAg, or anti-HBe indicates infectivity and need for investigation for chronic persistent or chronic aggressive hepatitis.

References

  • Edwards MS. Hepatitis B serology-Help in interpretation. Pediatr Clin North Am. 1988 Jun; 35(3):503-515 (review). PubMed 3287312
  • Favero MS, Maynard JE, Leger RT, Graham DR, Dixon RE. Guidelines for the care of patients hospitalized with viral hepatitis. Ann Intern Med. 1979 Dec; 91(6):872-876. PubMed 517890
  • Lee HS, Vyas GN. Diagnosis of viral hepatitis. Clin Lab Med. 1987 Dec; 7(4):741-757 (review). PubMed 3319367
  • Mushahwar IK, Dienstag JL, Polesky HF, McGrath LC, Decker RH, Overby LR. Interpretation of various serological profiles of hepatitis B virus infection. Am J Clin Pathol. 1981 Dec; 76(6):773-777. PubMed 7315794
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