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Heinz Bodies Blood Test

Last updated May 26, 2019

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The Heinz Bodies Blood Test helps determine the levels of Heinz bodies in blood. It is used to investigate hemolytic anemia and hemoglobinopathies.

What are other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Heinz-Ehrlich Bodies Blood Test

What is Heinz Bodies Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Heinz bodies are irregularly-shaped masses of nonfunctional hemoglobin. They are found on the surfaces of red blood cells as a result of abnormalities with hemoglobin
  • Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein that makes up the bulk of red blood cells. Nearly one-third of the body’s 75 trillion cells are red blood cells, and each is composed of 97% hemoglobin
  • Heinz bodies result from problems with hemoglobin. These may be due to oxidative damage to hemoglobin, or genetic abnormalities in the region of DNA that gives instructions for making hemoglobin
  • Heinz bodies are dangerous, because they accumulate on the surfaces of red blood cells, and mark them for degradation in the spleen. These bodies are an important cause of hemolytic anemia (red blood cell shortage due to destruction)
  • Heinz bodies also interfere with red blood cells’ ability to transport oxygen. Thus, they may cause hemoglobinopathy (genetic defect involving abnormal hemoglobin)
  • The Heinz Bodies Blood Test helps determine the levels of Heinz bodies in blood. It is used to investigate hemolytic anemia and hemoglobinopathies

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Heinz Bodies Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Heinz Bodies Blood Test:

  • Following up to results of a low red blood cell count and elevated bilirubin
  • Investigating hemolytic anemia after a splenectomy
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Fatigue
  • Pale appearance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness

How is the Specimen Collected for Heinz Bodies Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Heinz Bodies Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Heinz Bodies Blood Test Result?

A high value (greater than 30%) for the Heinz Bodies Blood Test may indicate:

  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Hemoglobinopathies
  • Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency
  • Recent splenectomy

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

The following DoveMed website link is a useful resource for additional information:


Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 30, 2016
Last updated: May 26, 2019