Absolute Lymphocyte Count Test: Purpose, Preparation, Procedure and Result

The absolute Lymphocyte Count test is performed to measure the level of Absolute Lymphocyte Count in the blood.

Updated: October 28, 2019


The absolute Lymphocyte Count test is performed to measure the level of Absolute Lymphocyte Count in the blood. A sample of blood can be taken for this purpose.
Lymphocytes are one of the several different types of white blood cells. White blood cells are an important part of your immune system as they help your body fight against antigens, like bacteria, viruses and other toxins that is responsible for causing several disease.
If there are not enough white cells in your bloodstream, it will result in a weak immune system making people much more vulnerable to infections and diseases.

Purpose of Absolute Lymphocyte Count Test:

Typically this test is used in third world countries where CD4 tests are expensive or not available. As CD4 tests take longer to come back and need patient consent, this test can be done instead.
The test is performed to detect Infectious Mononucleosis, Leukemia, Lymphoma, and tuberculosis.
Mononucleosis or mono is often called the kissing disease. The virus that causes mono is transmitted through saliva, so you can get it through kissing, but you can also be exposed through a cough or sneeze, or by sharing a glass or food utensils with someone who has mono. An elevated number of lymphocytes or abnormal-looking lymphocytes indicates the possibility of mono.
Leukemia is cancer of the blood forming tissues in your body, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. The bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells, which don't function properly leading to this disease.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system when the lymphocytes are affected.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease that usually affects the lungs. An elevated number of lymphocytes is an indication of TB.

Preparation for Absolute Lymphocyte Count Test:

No special preparation is required for the Absolute Lymphocyte Count. You should inform the doctor if you are on medications or any prevailing medical conditions or allergies which can alter the test results. Wear a sleeveless shirt or a full sleeve shirt with a loose fit which can be comfortable while taking the blood sample.

Procedure for Absolute Lymphocyte Count Test:

Most blood samples are collected by wrapping an elastic band around your upper arm. By doing this the flow of blood in the arm is stopped and the veins in your arm become more visible, which makes it easier to insert the needle. Alcohol is used to clean the site on your skin where the needle will be inserted and then the needle is inserted into the vein. This may cause a brief pinching or stinging sensation.
Your blood is collected in a tube that is attached to the needle. Sometimes more than one tube may be needed. The elastic band is removed after enough blood has been collected. Cotton or gauze is placed on the site of the needle insertion after the needle is removed from your skin. You will be asked to apply pressure to the area using cotton or gauze to stop bleeding. A bandage is used to secure the cotton or gauze after sometime in that place.

Results of Absolute Lymphocyte Count Test:

The count should be 1300 to 3500 cells per mic for a normal range. If you have a lymphocyte count that is higher than normal, it may be a temporary situation, as can occur usually after an illness. However, it may represent something more serious, such as a blood cancer or a chronic infection. In these cases other tests can be performed to determine if your lymphocyte count is a cause for concern and to find out the underlying cause.
If your lymphocyte count is high, the test result may be an indication of one of the following conditions:

  • Infection (bacterial, viral, other)
  • Cancer of the blood or lymphatic system
  • An autoimmune disorder causing ongoing (chronic) inflammation
  • Specific causes of lymphocytosis include:
  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Mononucleosis
  • Whooping cough
  • Tuberculosis
  • Vasculitis (blood vessel inflammation)
  • Other viral infections

A low lymphocyte count is called as lymphocytopenia. Usually this occurs because either your body isn't producing enough lymphocytes or lymphocytes are being destroyed. It can also occur if lymphocytes are trapped in your spleen or lymph nodes. Other conditions that can cause lymphocytopenia include:

  • Malnourished
  • HIV and AIDS
  • autoimmune conditions, such as lupus
  • some cancers, including lymphocytic anemia, lymphoma, and Hodgkin disease
  • influenza
  • radiation therapy
  • certain drugs, including chemotherapy drugs
  • steroid use


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