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Methylmalonic acid blood test


Definition:

Methylmalonic acid is a substance produced when proteins (called amino acids) in the body break down.

A test can be done to measure the amount of methylmalonic acid in your blood.

How the Test is Performed:

A blood sample is needed.

How to Prepare for the Test:

No special preparation is necessary.

How the Test will Feel:

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. There may be some throbbing or slight bruising. These soon go away.

Why the Test is Performed:

Your doctor may order this test if there are signs of certain genetic disorders, such as methylmalonic acidemia. Testing for this disorder is often done as part of a newborn screening exam.

This test may also be done with other tests to check for a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Normal Results:

Normal values are 0.08 to 0.56 micromoles per liter.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean:

A higher than normal value may be due to vitamin B12 deficiency or methylmalonic acidemia.

Risks:

Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)
References:

Antony AC. Megaloblastic anemias. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 167.

Cederbaum S, Berry GT. Inborn errors of carbohydrate, ammonia, amino acid, and organic acid metabolism. In: Gleason CA, Devaskar SU, eds. Avery's Diseases of the Newborn. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 22.

Elghetany MT, Banki K. Erythrocytic disorders. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 32.


Review Date: 11/1/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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