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Myoglobin Blood Test

Last updated Jan. 11, 2019

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The Myoglobin Blood Test is also commonly used to identify a recent heart attack.

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

  • MB Blood Test
  • Serum Myoglobin Test

What is Myoglobin Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Myoglobin is a protein in muscle cells that binds oxygen for use in energy production
  • The role of any muscle is to contract and relax. This causes different actions depending on the type of muscle. There are 3 muscle types that are grouped according to their distribution and characteristics:
  • Skeletal muscles move the body through space and regulate the opening  and closing of passageways. The biceps and some sphincters are skeletal muscles. Skeletal muscles are under voluntary control
  • Cardiac muscles circulate blood and are found only in the heart
  • Smooth muscles provide tissues with elasticity and support. They are found underneath the skin, surrounding the intestines, and in a variety of other places
  • Skeletal and cardiac muscles are striated. This means that they are organized in repeating structural units. As opposed to non-striated smooth muscles, skeletal and cardiac muscles contain significant levels of myoglobin
  • When damaged, the membranes of muscles leak their inner contents to the surrounding area. This includes myoglobin. Thus, an elevated myoglobin level in the blood indicates damage to muscles somewhere in the body
  • Myoglobin is excreted via the kidneys through the urine. Excessive myoglobin levels may cause myoglobin buildup in the kidneys. This is toxic to the kidneys and may cause kidney damage
  • The Myoglobin Blood Test is a test to assess the levels of myoglobin in blood. It is used to identify the presence and timing of muscle damage. However, it cannot determine the location of muscle injury/damage
  • The Myoglobin Blood Test is also commonly used to identify a recent heart attack

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Myoglobin Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing a Myoglobin Blood Test:

  • Diagnosing and assessing the severity of a recent heart attack, which is marked by:
    • Chest pain or discomfort
    • Radiating pain to the jaw and face
    • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Assessing the severity of muscular trauma and muscle diseases

How is the Specimen Collected for Myoglobin Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Myoglobin 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 Myoglobin Blood Test Result?

The significance of the Myoglobin Blood Test is explained:

  • Increased myoglobin levels may indicate:Recent heart attack
    • Rapid atrophy, possibly due to:
    • Muscle-wasting disease
    • Viral infection
    • Recent muscle trauma
  • Decreased myoglobin levels may indicate:
    • Myasthenia gravis
    • Polymyositis (presence of antibodies to myoglobin)
    • Rheumatoid arthritis

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:

  • The Myoglobin Test is often performed alongside other biochemical tests, family history analysis, a physical exam, and an ECG, to better diagnose a recent heart attack
  • Certain factors interfere with the results of this test. These include strenuous exercise and recent surgery

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.

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Nov. 12, 2014
Last updated: Jan. 11, 2019