Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)

Clinical definition of the ESR test
The erythrocyte sedimentation (ESR) is the rate at which red blood cells sediment in a period of 1 hour. It measures the rate of fall (sedimentation) of erythrocytes (red blood cells) in a sample of blood that has been placed into a tall, thin, vertical tube.  In normal conditions red cells fall slowly, leaving little clear plasma. Increased blood levels of abnormal proteins and other proteins such as fibrinogen, immunoglobulins which are increased due to inflammation cause red blood cells to fall more rapidly increasing ESR. ESR may be increased in a number of different conditions such as autoimmune diseases and cancer. ESR test measures the degree of inflammation present in the body.

Why is the ESR test done?
ESR test is done to determine the presence of one or more types of conditions, including infections, tumorsinflammation, and those leading to the breakdown or decreased function of tissue or organs (degenerative), and/or to monitor the progress of disease or effect of therapy.
ESR is helpful in diagnosing two specific inflammatory diseases, temporal arteritis and polymyalgia rheumatica.

What are the common signs/symptoms when the ESR test is done?

  • Headaches
  • Pelvic pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Joint stiffness  
  • Inflammation and pain in the joints
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Pain and Weakness in the neck, shoulder and muscles
  • Morning stiffness
  • Bowel obstructions
  • Scalp tenderness
  • Loss of vision
  • Facial pain  
  • Anemia

Who should do the ESR test (Target population)?
Persons showing the above signs and symptoms, and symptoms suggestive of polymyalgia or temporal arthritis.

What should I do before the ESR test?

Specimen type

Specimen collection procedure

Preparatory instructions before the test *


(Blood Sample)


(Collection of blood from a vein, usually from the arm)

No Fasting Required.

No other special preparations required.

*Subjects suffering from any illness or on oral or injectable medications are advised to consult their physician prior to requesting any tests or procedures.

How do I interpret my ESR test results?


Reference range


Westergren method

Automated processors


0 to 15 mm/hr

2 to 6 mm


0 to 20mm/hr

2 to 12 mm


0 to 20 mm/hr

2 to 12mm

‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’

Diseases/conditions related to the ESR test

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Temporal Arteritis
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Kawasaki's disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Sickle cell anemia

Other tests related to the ESR test

  • C-reactive protein (CRP)
  • ANA
  • RF

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ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate)