Blood Type and Crossmatch
Does this test have other names?
Blood typing, crossmatching
What is this test?
This is a set of tests that looks for harmful interactions between your blood and
donor blood. The tests are done before a blood transfusion.
Blood typing is the first step. This test finds out whether you have blood type A,
AB, B, or O. Your blood is also tested to find out whether your Rh type is negative
or positive. It's important for your healthcare provider to know your blood type in
order to select a donor blood that's compatible before doing the crossmatch.
An intermediate step between blood typing and crossmatching is called a recipient
antibody screen. This test checks for unexpected antibodies in your blood. If unexpected
antibodies are found, this can delay the selection of compatible donor blood.
Crossmatching is a way for your healthcare provider to test your blood against a donor's
blood to make sure they are fully compatible. Crossmatching takes 45 minutes to an
hour. It's essentially a trial transfusion done in test tubes to see exactly how your
blood will react with potential donor blood.
It's important for donor blood to match your own as closely as possible. Otherwise,
your immune system might create antibodies against the donor blood cells. In this
case, your immune system correctly views the donor cells as foreign, but incorrectly
views them harmful. This can lead to a dangerous and possibly fatal reaction.
Why do I need this test?
You might have this test if you need or may need a blood transfusion. For example,
you might need a blood transfusion if you have an acute hemorrhage that causes a severe
loss of red blood cells.
You may also have this test if you are having certain medical procedures that could
cause significant blood loss, such as a cesarean section, a renal biopsy, or a cholecystectomy.
You may also have this test if you:
Have severe anemia or a condition that causes severe anemia, such as sickle cell disease
Have cancer and your healthcare provider wants to check the effects of chemotherapy
Have a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia
Are pregnant, to find out if you are Rh negative or positive
May be getting an organ, bone marrow, or tissue transplant
You may have a partial crossmatch if you are in critical need of blood, and your healthcare
provider decides that waiting for a full test could be more dangerous for you. If
your situation is too urgent to wait for even a partial crossmatch, type O blood may
be used. Type O blood has the highest probable compatibility with other blood types.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may also order an antibody screen.
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
This test does not have a "normal" result. The goal of blood typing and crossmatching
is to find a compatible blood type for transfusion.
The results of blood typing will tell you if you are type A, B, AB, or O and if you
are Rh negative or positive. The results will tell your healthcare provider what blood
or blood components will be safe to give you.
If your crossmatch finds no antibodies, you have a very low possibility that your
blood type will be incompatible with the donor type.
If your crossmatch comes back positive, it means it's likely that antibodies were
found. In this case, the antibodies must be isolated in a lab to find out how significant
they are. Not all antibodies cause donor blood to be incompatible with your type,
but when they are, using blood from that particular donor will most likely be ruled
How is this test done?
The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your
Does this test pose any risks?
Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection,
bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight
stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.
What might affect my test results?
A crossmatch that's done more than 3 days before a transfusion could have inaccurate
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows
about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes
medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.