Monospot Test

Last updated: 6 December 2017

What is glandular fever?

Glandular fever (or infectious mononucleosis) is an illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, and is common in teenagers and young adults.

What is a monospot test?

The monospot test (IM Test) is a blood test for diagnosing glandular fever.

What are the symptoms of glandular fever?

Sore throat / swollen neck glands

Glandular fever is usually associated with a sore throat or tonsillitis, and swollen glands (lymphadenopathy) in the neck and elsewhere.


A skin rash may be present, and is more likely to occur if the patient is taking an antibiotic called amoxycillin.

Enlarged liver or spleen

The liver and spleen are sometimes mildly enlarged, and liver function tests may be mildly elevated.

Flu-like symptoms

Glandular fever also causes flu-like symptoms, including:

  • High temperature
  • Generalised aches of joints and muscles
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness

How is a monospot test performed?

The monospot test requires a few millilitres of blood from a vein.

Monospot test results explained

A POSITIVE Monospot Test means that the individual has glandular fever.

A NEGATIVE Monospot in the second or third week of illness makes a diagnosis of glandular fever much less likely, but during the first week of illness the test may be falsely negative in about half of cases.

If necessary, an EBV serology can be performed to further test for specific antibodies against the Epstein-Barr virus.

The components of EBV serology include:

  • EBV IgM (usually indicates recent infection)
  • EBV IgG (usually indicates previous infection)

Related specialists

Related procedures

  • Blood Test (venesection)

Related tests

Also known as

  • Infectious mononucleosis
  • IM test



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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.