Overview of Lithium

What is Lithium?

Lithium (Li+) is an element which is used as an antipsychotic drug to treat bipolar disorder and mania, as well as in some other psychological diseases like depression as an augmenting agent. The Lithium Test is performed to measure the concentration of lithium in blood.

Sample Type

The sample type collected for Lithium is: Blood

Preparation for Lithium

  • No special preparation required

Why Get Tested for Lithium?

The Lithium Test is performed:

·         To establish a therapeutic dosage for lithium

·         To monitor blood concentration at regular intervals to help maintain the therapeutic concentration

·         To check for lithium toxicity upon the appearance of symptoms

Understand more about Lithium

Lithium is an alkali metal which occurs in trace amounts in the human body mainly obtained from dietary sources. Lithium compounds are used as antipsychotic drugs for the treatment of the Bipolar disorder. Bipolar disease is a psychological condition where the patient goes through alternating periods of severe depression and mania. It is thus associated with sudden and unpredictable mood swings. Lithium is prescribed as a mood stabilizer to treat these sudden mood swings. It is also used as an augmenting agent for patients being treated for depression but not responding to standard medications. Lithium may also be prescribed for other psychological diseases as an augmenting agent.

Lithium is a drug which acts relatively slowly and may take several weeks to be effective in treatment. Hence, its concentration in blood needs to be maintained within a steady therapeutic range for it to be effective as a drug. Lower concentrations than the therapeutic range make it ineffective as medicine, while higher concentration than the therapeutic range causes lithium toxicity. The blood level of lithium is thus monitored at regular intervals to help maintain it within the effective therapeutic range.

What Results of Lithium mean?


Therapeutic range: 0.6 to 1.2 mmol/L

The standard therapeutic range of lithium concentration may vary from person to person and is usually established at the beginning of the treatment.

Lower lithium concentration than the therapeutic range makes the drug ineffective in treatment.

Higher lithium concentration than the therapeutic range induces symptoms associated with lithium toxicity.

Patient Concerns about Lithium

Frequently Asked Questions about Lithium

Q. How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle attached is used to withdraw blood sample from a blood vessel in your arm generally from the inner side of the elbow area. The doctor, nurse or the phlebotomist will tie an elastic band around your arm which will help the blood vessels to swell with blood and hence makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You may feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected is then sent to the laboratory.
Q. Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, as this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, rarely, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma (blood collection under the skin) formation, bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
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The CLINICAL LABORATORY of Shahbazker’s Diagnostics Pvt. Ltd., Colaba is the 5th lab in Mumbai & 21st in India to be granted accreditation by NABL, and the 1st Lab in Mumbai and 2nd in India to be accredited under ISO 15189 (specific for medical Laboratories). NABL is a body under the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. Its criteria are based on ISO 15189:2007.

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