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Tissue Type Test (HLA)
Table of Contents
Test Overview
Why It Is Done
How to Prepare
How It Is Done
How It Feels
Results
What Affects the Test?
Test Overview
A tissue type test is a blood test that measures substances called antigens on the surface of
body cells and tissues. Checking the antigens can tell if donor tissue is safe (compatible) for
transplant to another person. This test may also be called HLA typing. Antigens can tell the
difference between normal body tissue or foreign tissue (for example, tissue from another
person's body). Tissue type helps find the best match for tissues or blood cells (such as
platelets). Some times tissue type test is done to check the autoimmune diseases.
A special pattern of antigens (called tissue type) is present on each person's cells and tissues.
Half of each person's antigens come from (inherited) the mother and half from the father.
Identical twins have the same pattern, but everyone else has his or her own special pattern.
Brothers and sisters have a 1in4 chance of having an identical match. Each person's antigen
pattern can be "fingerprinted" through a tissue type test.
The closer the match of antigens, the more likely that transplanted tissues or
organs will not be rejected.
The more similar the antigen patterns are from two people, the more likely it is
that they are related.
Two main antigen groups are used for a tissue type test. Class I has three classes of antigens
(HLAA, HLAB, HLAC) that are found on some kinds of blood cells. Class II has one class of
antigens (HLAD) that are found only on certain cells in the body. There are many different
types of antigens in each category.
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Why It Is Done
A tissue type test is done to:
See if the antigen pattern for donate tissue or organs (including a blood platelet
transfusion or bone marrow transplant) is a match. The success of a transplant
depends on how closely the antigen patterns match. The antigen patterns are
most likely to be similar when the donated organ or tissue comes from a close
relative of the person.
A tissue type test may be done as part of a paternity test to check to see if a
man could be the father of a child.
Find people who may have a high chance of certain autoimmune diseases.
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How to Prepare
If you are donating tissue or blood cells, your must discuss your medical history with your
doctor —such as a history of cancer, infections, highrisk behaviors, use of drugs, exposure to
toxins. This will provide an important information, that whether your organ can be utilized as
donor.
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How It Is Done
The health professional (Phlebotomist) drawing blood will:
Wrap an elastic band (tourniquet) around your upper arm to stop the flow of
blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle
into the vein.
Clean the needle site with alcohol.
Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
Put pressure to the site and then a bandage.
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Results
A tissue type test is a blood test that measures substances called antigens on the surface of
body cells and tissues. Checking the antigens can tell if donor tissue is safe (compatible) for
transplant to another person.
For organ or tissue transplants, the results of tissue type show whether the
donated tissue matches. The antigen pattern match is different for each type of
transplant. For example, the match for a bone marrow transplant needs to be
closer than the match needed for a kidney transplant.
To check family relationships, the more alike the antigen patterns are, the
more likely it is that the two people are related.
To find a specific antigen of some diseases, the more likely that the disease is
present.
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What Affects the Test?
Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include
having had a blood transfusion in the past 3 days.