Is blood collection using vacutainers better than the conventional method ?

Ans. There are many ways in which blood can be drawn from a vein. The best method varies with the age of the patient, equipment available, and tests required.

Most blood collection in the US and UK is done with an evacuated tube system. Two common systems are Vacutainer and Vacuette. The equipment consists of a plastic hub, a hypodermic needle, and a vacuum tube. The conventional method uses a plastic disposable needle and syringe for drawing blood. In our country, the conventional method is still prevalent in most places.

The vacutainer system allows mixing of the right amount of blood with prefilled measured additives. There is no variation of cell morphology and other biochemical parameters due to squeezing of the blood sample through the conventional syringe. Multiple vacuum tubes can be attached to and removed in turn from a single needle, allowing different kinds of blood samples to be obtained from a single venipuncture.

However, care has to be taken to put the needle properly in a good vein, in a single prick, otherwise the proportion of blood to additive gets altered. Moreover, the phlebotomist has to be efficient in venipuncture, because you cannot make out if the needle is in the vein until you attach it to the vacuum tube.

With the vacuum tube system, the needle pierces the top of the sample tube and potentially comes in contact with the additives in the tube. As it is a hollow needle, some of this can be carried into the next tube and contaminate it. The most likely additive to cause trouble is EDTA which will affect the coagulation time assays and by chelating some of the metal ions may interfere with some of the biochemistry results (especially potassium). Thus EDTA samples should be drawn last in most cases and plain tubes must be drawn first.

Under certain circumstances, such as in children, or when the veins are difficult to find, a syringe with a butterfly needle may be used.

Is there any risk of contracting disease at a pathology laboratory ?

Ans. This is possible only in places where standardized procedures of sample collection are not followed. The source of risk is mainly the needle prick. The needle should be sterile, and the area where the prick is made should be cleaned with spirit prior to sample collection.

Why does a black or blue blotch appear in some people at the site of blood collection ? How should it be dealt ?

Ans. The black or blue blotch appears if the needle pierces the vein through and through. Some blood leaks into the tissue around the vein. If such a thing happens accidently, you need to ice the site, use the affected arm as little as possible, and take a pain reliever allowed to you.

I feel dizzy while giving my blood sample. What should I do ?

Ans. If you are nervous or have a tendency to feel woozy or faint, tell the phlebotomist before you begin. Your blood can be drawn while you are lying down, which will help you avoid fainting and injuring yourself. If, at any time, you feel faint or lightheaded, tell the phlebotomist or someone nearby. Putting your head between your knees or lying down should make you feel better soon.

Which is the best test for monitoring control of my blood glucose levels ?

Ans. Testing for Glycosylated Hemoglobin gives you an idea of blood glucose control for the past three months. It can help you and your doctor know if the measures you are taking to control your diabetes are successful or need to be adjusted.

Can I get results of urine culture on the same day that I submit the sample at the laboratory ?

Ans. You may get a preliminary information of whether a growth is there, but a final report showing drug sensitivity of cultured bacteria is available only the next day, even with the latest equipment and technology.

What factors affect laboratory test results ?

Ans. Proper sample collection is the first step to correct results. This includes timing of sample collection, whether any special preparation is required, whether any drug has to be stopped before getting the test done, proper mixing of sample with correct anticoagulant, and such other factors. Lipaemic or hemolysed blood samples may give inaccurate results.

Ideally the samples should be tested immediately after collection, especially urine and stool samples. Some samples can be transported. However, transportation of sample needs stringent temperature and leak control measures, otherwise loss of quality can occur.

Can I discuss my test results with the pathologist ?

Ans. Yes, your pathologist has the entire information about your sample, and about any problems that may have occurred during its analysis. You should discuss your report with him if you have any doubt.

What is the best time for blood collection in infants ?

Ans. Blood for analysis in infants should be collected prior to feed, as milky & turbid serum interferes with certain testing.

When and how should I collect urine sample?

Ans. If you wish to collect urine sample at home, kindly collect a labeled container from our laboratory. You must collect early morning midstream sample for best results. After collection, the sample must be sent within 1- 2 hours to the laboratory.

How should I collect semen for Semen Analysis?

Ans. The sample should be collected after masturbation, and the complete ejaculate should be submitted for evaluation.

What is the difference between automated testing and manual testing?

Ans. Automated testing is more accurate. However, no amount of automation can equal the decision making capability of a skilled and experienced worker.




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