Hair analysis for heavy metal exposure
Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology offers a hair metal analysis panel including 16 metals.
Hair is an important sample type for toxic elements testing when looking for past exposure. Because protein is synthesised in the hair follicle, elements such as heavy metals are incorporated permanently into the hair structure. Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology offers a hair metal analysis panel including 16 metals.
Elements such as heavy metals are often in higher concentrations in hair than in blood or urine. Metal concentrations in blood and urine decrease rapidly after exposure, but hair analysis can assess past exposure to toxins, including over time.
Scalp hair is easy to sample. To ensure we get the most accurate results, patients are asked to avoid perming or hair colouring (including bleach) for at least six weeks before sampling.
Before presenting for collection, patients should wash their hair with a non-medicated shampoo, rinse thoroughly with water and allow hair to dry without using hair products.
What to order: Hair metal analysis
Clinical notes: Please provide the relevant clinical information.
Sample preparation: Scalp hair should be collected using clean stainless-steel scissors. Each hair collection should be taken from four or five different locations, cutting as close as possible to the scalp. Hair must not be pulled out by the roots. Suitable areas for sampling are the nape of neck and the side of the head. Length required is about 2.5 cm from the scalp end of the hair. Collect about one matchbox full of hair combined from the various scalp locations. Place the combined hair samples into a labelled, sterile urine collection jar, and send to SNP’s laboratory at Bowen Hills, Brisbane for analysis.
Test performed: Weekly – results available within 2 weeks of receipt of specimen
Cost: Heavy metal hair analysis is not covered by a Medicare rebate. A $150 fee applies (subject to change).
Turnaround time: Turnaround times are within 14 days using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS).
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Hair analysis is not considered a stand-alone diagnostic test and should be used together with the patient’s clinical history and symptoms.