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The ESR Westergren test measures the rate at which red blood cells settle in a test tube, indicating inflammation. It helps diagnose conditions like infections, cancers, and autoimmune diseases and is used when symptoms of inflammation are present, to monitor disease progression, assess treatment effectiveness, and differentiate between similar conditions. Advantages include its simplicity, accessibility, cost-effectiveness, and broad applicability. It is easy to perform, widely available, and can be used with other tests like CRP for a comprehensive inflammation assessment. The ESR Westergren test remains a valuable

The Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) Westergren test is a common blood test used to detect inflammation in the body. It measures the rate at which red blood cells (erythrocytes) settle at the bottom of a test tube over a specific period, usually one hour. The test is named after the Swedish physician Alf Westergren, who developed this method in the early 20th century.

The ESR Westergren test is primarily used to help diagnose conditions associated with acute and chronic inflammation, including infections, cancers, and autoimmune diseases. The test is non-specific, meaning it cannot identify the exact cause of inflammation but can indicate its presence and severity. It is often used in conjunction with other diagnostic tests to provide a comprehensive view of a patient's health.


When Should We Do the ESR Westergren Test? Healthcare providers may order an ESR Westergren test for various reasons, including:

  • Symptoms of Inflammation: When a patient exhibits symptoms such as unexplained fever, weight loss, stiffness, or joint pain, the test can help detect underlying inflammation.
  • Monitoring Disease Progression: For patients with known inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus, the ESR test can help monitor the disease's progression and response to treatment.
  • Assessing Treatment Effectiveness: The test can be used to evaluate how well a patient is responding to treatment for an inflammatory condition.
  • Differentiating Conditions: It can help distinguish between conditions that cause similar symptoms, such as distinguishing between different types of arthritis.

The ESR Westergren test offers several advantages:

  • Simplicity and Accessibility: The test is easy to perform, requires minimal equipment, and is widely available in clinical laboratories. This makes it a practical choice for initial screening and ongoing monitoring.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Compared to more advanced imaging or specific biomarker tests, the ESR Westergren test is relatively inexpensive, making it a cost-effective option for assessing inflammation.
  • Broad Applicability: While non-specific, the test can be applied to a wide range of conditions, making it a versatile tool in the diagnostic process.
  • Complementary Use: The ESR test can be used alongside other tests, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, to provide a more comprehensive assessment of inflammation. While CRP responds more quickly to inflammation, ESR provides a longer-term view, reflecting chronic inflammation.

The ESR Westergren test remains a valuable tool in modern medicine for detecting and monitoring inflammation. Its simplicity, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness make it a widely used test in clinical practice. By providing important insights into a patient's inflammatory status, the ESR test plays a crucial role in the diagnosis and management of various medical conditions.


  1. American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC). (2020). Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR). 
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). (2021). Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate. 
Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate
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