Transport: at 2-8˚c
Storage: 2-3 days at 2-8˚c
Test Name: Lithium ++
Normal Range: Theraputic level:0.8-1.4 Toxic level>2
To determine the lithium concentration in the blood in order to maintain an appropriate level or to detect lithium toxicity
At regular intervals to monitor lithium levels; as needed to detect low or toxic concentrations
A blood sample taken from a vein in your arm
This test measures the amount of lithium in the blood. Lithium is a drug that is used to treat bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that is characterised by cycles of depression and mania. These cycles may be as short as a few days or weeks or may be months or years long. During a depressive episode, those affected may feel sad, hopeless, worthless, and lose interest in daily activities. They may be tired but have trouble sleeping, experience weight loss or gain, have difficulty concentrating, and have thoughts of suicide. During a manic episode, those affected may be euphoric, irritable, have high energy and grandiose ideas, use poor judgment, and participate in risky behaviour. Sometimes affected patients will have mixed episodes with aspects of both mania and depression. Bipolar disorder can affect both adults and children.
Lithium is prescribed to even out the moods of the person with bipolar disorder and is sometimes prescribed for patients with depression who are not responding well to other medications. It may take several weeks to months for lithium to affect a person’s mood. Dosages of the drug are adjusted until a steady concentration in the blood is reached. The actual amount of drug that it will take to reach this steady state will vary from person to person and may be affected by the individual’s age, general state of health, and other medications. Lithium levels must be maintained within a narrow therapeutic range. Too little lithium and the medication will not be effective; too much and patients will experience symptoms of lithium toxicity, such as stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion, blurred vision, sleepiness and tremors (shaking). Extremely high levels can lead to loss of consciousness and/or seizures, and can be fatal.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed. However, timing of the sample collection may affect results. Lithium blood levels must be performed at least 12 hours (usually 12-18 hours) after the last dose of lithium. Tell the person who draws your blood when you took your last dose so that the results can be interpreted correctly.