Medical Definition of Serum

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Serum: The clear liquid that can be separated from clotted blood. Serum differs from plasma, the liquid portion of normal unclotted blood containing the red and white cells and platelets. It is the clot that makes the difference between serum and plasma.

Terms in this dictionary with the word "serum" include maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP), serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (SGOT), serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT), and serum hepatitis.

The term "serum" also is used to designate any normal or pathological fluid that resembles serum as, for example, the fluid in a blister.

"Serum" is a Latin word that refers to the "whey", the watery liquid that separates from the curds in the process of cheesemaking.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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