What is meant by reference range?


Reference interval, also called normal value or reference range, refers to the interval where the majority of healthy people are expected to fall within when we do an analysis of a health marker. The reference ranges are used as a comparison to assess whether a person's value is within the "normal" range or outside which may indicate an abnormality and possible disease or risk.

Test response outside or inside reference range

Shortly after you have completed a health check or a health test, you will see the test results in your medical record. The test answers are reported based on a so-called reference interval where your values may occur within or outside the specified interval.

What does reference range mean?

A reference range is a set of values that includes upper and lower limits for a specific health marker based on values from a group of healthy people (the reference group). The values will differ within the reference group but the majority of values will be average and fall between the upper and lower limits (limit values).

How is the limit value determined?

To determine the limit value for a specific health marker, for example Testosterone or Estradiol, the extremes from the reference group with the highest and lowest values are excluded. In healthcare, the reference interval is primarily used as a tool from the doctor's perspective in order to facilitate the identification of abnormal values.

Test response outside the reference range?

If you should receive a test result that is outside the reference range, it does not necessarily mean that you have a disease or that you are covered by a greater risk of becoming ill. The reference value indicates a normal value for the vast majority, but it does not necessarily reflect your personal reference value. A slight deviation may therefore be a normal variant for you personally.

What is meant by a normal variant?

In many cases, it can be a so-called "normal variant". A slightly deviant value that falls outside the reference range, which may be due to factors such as age, gender, analysis method, but which may also be influenced by external circumstances such as your diet, exercise or a temporary infection.

The values of some health markers vary greatly during the day, but also in combination with external influences. If you have rested or exerted yourself physically before sampling or did not follow sampling recommendations, you may get misleading values. Due to the above, it is the doctor's assessment and the combined overall picture in combination with other relevant information that can determine a possible normal variant.

Sometimes it may be necessary to supplement with more continuous follow-up tests over time in order to investigate whether a value was only due to a temporary change or to establish that it is a normal variant in the individual case.

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