Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is a type of protein, called an enzyme, that helps red blood cells work properly. The G6PD test looks at the amount (activity) of this substance in a patient's red blood cells.
RBC G6PD test; G6PD screen
A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture
No special preparation is usually necessary.
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Your doctor may order this test if you have signs of G6PD deficiency. This means you do not have enough G6PD activity.
Too little G6PD activity leads to the destruction of red blood cells. This process is called hemolysis. When this process is actively occurring, it is called a hemolytic episode.
Hemolytic episodes can be triggered by infections, severe stress, certain foods (such as fava beans), and certain drugs, including:
If this test is done during a hemolytic episode it may be falsely positive and misleading. This is because the cells most likely to have low G6PD levels (older cells) have been destroyed, and those remaining may show normal G6PD levels.
After recovery from the episode, older cells will show lower levels of G6PD, resulting in a positive test.
Abnormal results mean you have a G6PD deficiency, which can cause hemolytic anemia in certain conditions.
Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
Schwartz RS. Autoimmune and intravascular hemolytic anemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 164.
Yee DL, Bollard CM, Geaghan SM. Appendix: normal blood values: selected reference values for neonatal, pediatric, and adult populations. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Shattil SS, et al, eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 164.