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The sedimentation rate ("sed rate") is a blood test for inflammation in the body. If it is elevated, there is an inflammatory process or bacterial infection somewhere in the body (viral infections generally do not result in an elevated sedimentation rate). The test is broad and non-specific, however, so it is done most often either
Normal ranges vary from hospital to hospital, but under 15 is a good guess for a normal value.
The test is a measurement of how much the red blood cells in the specimen settle (sedimentation) in a test tube over a measured test time, generally one hour . Thus it takes an hour at a minimum to run the test. Inflammatory proteins in the blood make the red cells clump together and settle faster.