Ann Lab Med.  2015 Mar;35(2):194-197. 10.3343/alm.2015.35.2.194.

Comparison of Red Blood Cell Hemolysis Using Plasma and Serum Separation Tubes for Outpatient Specimens

  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine and Asan Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.


To rapidly obtain outpatient results, we use plasma separation tubes (PST) for chemistry analysis. If lactate dehydrogenase measurement is required, serum separation tubes (SST) are used. There has been no evaluation of hemolysis with these tubes. We compared the hemolytic index (HI) obtained by using PST and SST and applied this for choosing appropriate tubes for clinical laboratories.
The HI of specimens obtained from outpatients visiting Asan Medical Center between July and December 2012 was analyzed. The HI was scored from 0 to 10 by using the Toshiba 200FR (Toshiba Medical Systems Co., Japan). HI was classified by sample tube type, and significant hemolysis was defined as a HI of 2 or more. For significant hemolysis cases, medical records were reviewed to identify the causes.
Among 171,519 specimens, significant hemolysis was observed in 0.66% of specimens (0.68% of PST specimens, 0.46% of SST specimens). The mean HI in PST was 0.18 (SD: 0.43) and that in SST was 0.14 (SD: 0.37). The proportion of significant hemolysis was significantly higher in PST than in SST (P=0.001). The cause of significant hemolysis was identified as chemotherapy and prosthetic valve in 48.1% of specimens. Complex sampling errors may have caused significant hemolysis in the remaining 51.9% of specimens.
The incidence of hemolysis was slightly higher for PST than SST, although both were <1%. PST are thought to be more useful than SST in outpatient testing because of rapid turnaround time, greater sample volume, and less risk of random errors due to fibrin strands.


Hemolysis; Plasma; Serum
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