These guidelines refer to laboratory tests for monitoring changes in acute phase proteins in patients with an inflammatory response to tissue damage. Quantitative measurements of acute phase proteins are a valuable indicator of the presence, extent, and response of inflammation to treatment. When short term (less than 24 hours) changes in the inflammatory response are expected, quantitative assay of C reactive protein is the test of choice. The hyperproteinaemia that develops in response to a longer term (more than 24 hours) inflammatory response is complex and may vary from one disease to another. A test that is sensitive to the combined effect of several plasma proteins is therefore indicated, and appropriate tests include the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and plasma viscosity--the latter having several advantages. Tests for monitoring short term and long term changes in acute phase proteins are complementary and should be used for different clinical purposes; no one test is ideal for all clinical situations. A quality control programme is an essential component of laboratory tests for monitoring the acute phase response.
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