Indirect Coombs Test

Indirect Coombs Test-Why am I having this test?

Indirect Coombs test also called the indirect antiglobulin test (IAT), is used to detect antibodies directed against red blood cells (RBCs). This test is routinely done to check for a match between your blood and a donor’s blood before blood is given (transfusion).

What is being tested?

This test is the screening part of a larger test that also checks the blood type (type and screen). This test screens for common antibodies present in your blood prior to a blood transfusion. It can determine whether you have antibodies to RBCs that you are about to get in the transfusion. If the test is positive, you may have a reaction to the transfused blood.

What kind of sample is taken?

A blood sample is required for this test. It is usually collected by inserting a needle into a blood vessel.

How are the results reported?

Your test results will be reported as either positive or negative for antibodies against RBCs. For this test, normal results are:

  • Negative; no agglutination.

What do the results mean?

Results other than negative may indicate:

  • That you have received donor blood that does not match with your own (blood incompatibility).
  • Blood disorder in a newborn.
  • Acquired immune blood disorder.
  • Presence of certain medicines or illnesses.

Talk with your health care provider about what your results mean.

Questions to ask your health care provider

Ask your health care provider, or the department that is doing the test:

  • When will my results be ready?
  • How will I get my results?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What other tests do I need?
  • What are my next steps?

Summary

  • The indirect Coombs test is also called the indirect antiglobulin test (IAT).
  • It is used to detect antibodies directed against red blood cells (RBCs).
  • This test is routinely done to check for a match between your blood and a donor’s blood if you will be receiving a blood transfusion.
  • Your test results will be reported as either positive or negative for antibodies against RBCs.
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