Haemoglobin F (HbF) - Kleihauer test

Last updated: Friday, 04, June, 2010

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Item Process

5 mL blood in EDTA tube.


Blood film incubated at low pH, stained and examined.

Cells containing HbF resist acid elution and take up the stain; cells containing adult Hb (HbA) appear as 'ghost' cells.

Reference Interval

Kleihauer test negative on normal adult blood.


Detection and quantitation of transplacental haemorrhage.

Studies in the thalassaemias. See also Haemoglobin F - alkali denaturation and Flow cytometry.


Volume of transplacental haemorrhage can be estimated from the ratio of fetal (acid resistant) to maternal (ghost) red cells.

Distribution of Hb F in cells assists in determining type of thalassaemia.

Consult pathologist.


Mollison P. Blood Transfusion in Clinical Medicine. 9th ed. Blackwell Scientific 1993.