The radioallergosorbent test (RAST) measures immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in serum by radioimmunoassay and identifies specific allergens that cause rash, asthma, hay fever, drug reactions, and other atopic complaints. RAST is easier to perform and more specific than skin testing; it's also less painful for and less dangerous to the patient. Careful selection of specific allergens, based on the patient's clinical history, is crucial for effective testing.
Although skin testing is still the preferred means of diagnosing IgE-mediated hypersensitivities, RAST may be more useful when a skin disorder makes accurate reading of skin tests difficult, when a patient requires continual antihistamine therapy, or when skin tests are negative but the patient's clinical history supports IgE-mediated hypersensitivity.
Procedure And Posttest Care
RAST results are interpreted in relation to a control or reference serum that differs among laboratories.
Elevated serum IgE levels suggest hypersensitivity to the specific allergen or allergens used.
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