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Myoglobin - blood

Blood (serum) myoglobin is a test that measures the amount of myoglobin in the blood.

Myoglobin is a protein in heart and skeletal muscles. When you exercise, your muscles use up any available oxygen. Myoglobin has oxygen attached to it, which provides extra oxygen for the muscles to keep at a high level of activity for a longer period of time.

When muscle is damaged, myoglobin is released into the bloodstream. The kidneys help remove myoglobin from the body into the urine. In large amounts, myoglobin can damage the kidneys.

Myoglobin may also be measured with a urine test.  

Alternative Names

Serum myoglobin

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed. This may be taken from a vein. The procedure is called a venipuncture.

How to Prepare for the Test

There is no special preparation.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, you may feel moderate pain, or only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the Test is Performed

Serum myoglobin levels may be obtained to confirm suspected muscle damage, including heart and skeletal muscle damage.

Normal Results

A normal (negative) result is 0 - 85 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different samples.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Greater-than-normal levels are called a positive result. This may be due to:

Risks

There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood 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 light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

References

Chinnery PF. Muscle diseases. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 429.

O'Connor FG, Deuster PA. Rhabdomyolysis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 115.

Updated: 2/2/2013

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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