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Heterophile antibodies; screening

CPT4 code

Name of the Procedure:

Heterophile Antibodies; Screening
Common name(s): Monospot Test, Heterophile Antibody Test


The heterophile antibody screening test is a blood test used to detect certain antibodies that can indicate an infection, most commonly one caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). This is often associated with infectious mononucleosis (mono).


The procedure is used to diagnose infectious mononucleosis, a viral illness that often affects young adults and teenagers. The goal is to confirm or rule out the presence of heterophile antibodies that are typically produced in response to an EBV infection.


  • Symptoms suggesting infectious mononucleosis, including sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue.
  • Patients with prolonged fever and lymphadenopathy.
  • When a rapid diagnosis is needed to differentiate mono from other similar conditions like strep throat.


  • No special preparation is generally needed.
  • Patients do not usually need to fast.
  • Inform the healthcare provider of any medications being taken as some might affect the test results.

Procedure Description

  1. A healthcare professional will draw a small amount of blood from a vein, typically in the arm.
  2. The blood sample is then processed and mixed with specific reagents to detect the presence of heterophile antibodies.
  3. Results can often be obtained within minutes to hours.


The blood draw itself takes about 5 minutes, while the entire test process can be completed within an hour.


The procedure is typically performed in a doctor’s office, outpatient clinic, or hospital-based lab.


  • Phlebotomist or nurse for blood draw.
  • Laboratory technician or technologist to process and analyze the sample.
  • Healthcare provider (e.g., physician) to interpret results.

Risks and Complications

  • Common risks include minor pain or bruising at the blood draw site.
  • Rare complications might include infection or excessive bleeding.


  • Rapid and accurate diagnosis of infectious mononucleosis.
  • Helps in the differentiation from other infections like strep throat.
  • Provides essential information for appropriate patient management.


  • No significant recovery period needed.
  • Patients can usually resume normal activities immediately.
  • Follow-up may be suggested based on results to manage symptoms or further investigate any complications.


  • Serological tests for specific EBV antibodies.
  • Complete blood count (CBC) and peripheral blood smear to look for atypical lymphocytes.
  • Pros: Alternative tests may be more specific.
  • Cons: They often require more time and may not be available in all settings.

Patient Experience

  • Discomfort during blood draw is usually minimal.
  • Mild soreness at the puncture site may occur temporarily.
  • Pain management involves over-the-counter pain relievers if necessary.
  • Most patients find the process quick and relatively painless.

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