The hepatitis virus panel is a series of blood tests used to detect current or past infection by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. It can screen blood samples for more than one kind of hepatitis virus at the same time.
Antibody and antigen tests can detect each of the different hepatitis viruses.
Note: Hepatitis D only causes disease in people who also have hepatitis B. It is not routinely checked on a hepatitis antibody panel.
Blood is most often drawn from a vein from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm. Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed. The puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
The blood sample is sent to a lab to be examined. Blood (serology) tests are used to check for antibodies to each of the hepatitis viruses.
No special preparation is needed.
Some people feel moderate pain when the needle is inserted to draw blood. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, you may feel some throbbing.
Your provider may order this test if you have signs of hepatitis. It is used to:
The test may be performed for other conditions, such as:
A normal result means no hepatitis antibodies are found in the blood sample. This is called a negative result.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly depending on the lab doing the test. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.
There are different tests for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. A positive test is considered abnormal.
A positive test may mean:
Hepatitis A test results:
Hepatitis B test results:
Antibodies to hepatitis C can most often be detected 4 to 10 weeks after you get the infection. Other types of tests may be done to decide on treatment and monitor the hepatitis C infection.
Risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.