Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Antigen, Immunoassay

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Turnaround Time: 1 - 3 days
CPT Code:


Test Type: 2 to 3 mL washes or 0.5 to 1 mL aspirates
Reference Range:



Evaluate lower respiratory tract infections in young children. Severe life-threatening infections due to respiratory syncytial virus can occur during the first few years. Acquired immunity is incomplete and reinfection can occur later.

A positive result may occur in the absence of viable virus. In the event of a negative result, infection due to RSV cannot be ruled out because the antigen present may be below the detection limit of the test. A negative test is presumptive, and it is recommended by the assay manufacturer that these results be confirmed by another method. Freezing of the sample may also diminish detection of the antigen.

This test allows rapid diagnosis of the presence of respiratory syncytial virus. It avoids the necessity of obtaining acute and convalescent specimens over a two-week period. It may be particularly useful in children younger than six months old, whose antibody response to infection may not be diagnostic.

Chonmaitree T, Bessette-Henderson BJ, Hepler RE, Lucia HL. Comparison of three rapid diagnostic techniques for detection of respiratory syncytial virus from nasal wash specimens. J Clin Microbiol. 1987 Apr; 25(4):746-747. PubMed 3553236

Kim HW, Wyatt RG, Fernie BF, et al. Respiratory syncytial virus detection by immunofluorescence in nasal secretions with monoclonal antibodies against selected surface and internal proteins. J Clin Microbiol. 1983 Dec; 18(6):1399-1404. PubMed 6361054

Kumar ML, Super DM, Lembo RM, Thomas FC, Prokay SL. Diagnostic efficacy of two rapid tests for detection of respiratory syncytial virus antigen. J Clin Microbiol. 1987 May; 25(5):873-875. PubMed 3294889

Lauer BA, Masters HA, Wren CG, Levin MJ. Rapid detection of respiratory syncytial virus in nasopharyngeal secretions by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. J Clin Microbiol. 1985 Nov; 22(5):782-785. PubMed 3902879

Swenson PD, Kaplan MH. Rapid detection of respiratory syncytial virus in nasopharyngeal aspirates by a commercial enzyme immunoassay. J Clin Microbiol. 1986 Mar; 23(3):485-488. PubMed 3514658

Collection Details:

Collection Instructions:

Submit one specimen per test requested. Specify the exact specimen source/origin (eg, nasopharyngeal aspirate). Indicate a specific test number on the test request form.

Viral, Chlamydia, or Mycoplasma culture transport provided by LabCorp, or other appropriate transport medium; sterile leakproof container for washes or aspirates

Nasopharyngeal wash or aspirate using routine collection and transport procedure. Nasal swabs are not considered as sensitive for RSV detection. Avoid using collection containers with preservatives or transport that may contain interfering substances. Do not use calcium alginate swabs. Obtain sample during acute phase of illness when greatest amount of viral shedding occurs. To avoid delays in turnaround time when requesting multiple tests on frozen samples, please submit separate frozen specimens for each test requested.

Refrigerate for 72 hours or freeze if held longer.