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Pyruvate kinase

Definition

Pyruvate kinase is an enzyme found in red blood cells that helps change sugar in the blood (glucose) to energy when oxygen levels are low.

This article discusses the test to measure the level of pyruvate kinase in your blood.

How the test is performed

A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture

In the laboratory, white blood cells are removed because they can alter test results. The level of pyruvate kinase is then measured.

How to prepare for the test

If your child is to have this test performed, it may be helpful to explain how the test will feel, and even demonstrate on a doll. Explain the reason for the test. Knowing the "how and why" may reduce the anxiety your child feels.

How the test will feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, you may feel moderate pain, or only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterwards, there may be some throbbing.

Why the test is performed

This test is done to detect abnormally low levels of pyruvate kinase. If you do not have enough of this enzyme, red blood cells break down faster than normal. This can lead to hemolytic anemia , which is a low red blood cell count caused by an accelerated destruction of red blood cells.

See also: Pyruvate kinase deficiency (PKD)

Normal Values

Results vary depending upon the testing method used. In general, a normal value is 179 ± 16 units per 100mL of red blood cells.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What abnormal results mean

Low levels confirm pyruvate kinase deficiency.

What the risks are

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:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Gallagher PG. Hemolytic anemias:  red cell membrane and metabolic defects In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. . 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 164.

Ginder GD. Microcytic and hypochromic anemias. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. . 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 162.

Gregg X, Prchal JT. Red Blood Cell Enzymopathies. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Shattil SS, et al, eds. . 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 45.

Yee DL, Bollard CM, Geaghan SM. Appendix: Normal Blood Values. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Shattil SS, et al, eds. . 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 164.

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    Encyclopedia content is provided as information only and not intended to replace the advice and instruction from your personal physician.