“The ABC of Hepatitis serology”


I have been thinking about hepatitis serology recently and more particularly, best practice when trying to diagnose a viral hepatitis using serological testing.

There are several viral causes of hepatitis, such as Hep A, B, C, D & E, Epstein Barr virus, cytomegalovirus,  and HIV. (Toxoplasmosis often included in this group as well, even though not a virus!)

….and that is even before you get started on the more esoteric viral causes of hepatitis.

However all these viruses have varying clinical presentations, different incubation periods and particular risk factors. Some are acute and some are chronic.

I therefore find it a little frustrating when the request form asks for “hepatitis serology” without specifying the particular viruses that require testing, along with the clinical rationale.

As a laboratory profession, I don’t think we do ourselves or our patients any favours by accepting non-specific requests such as “hepatitis serology”, “viral hepatitis screen”, “hepatitis screen” etc etc. It is esssentially encouraging poor practice.

“Hepatitis serology” is not really a test request. It is more of a chapter in a textbook…..


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