Choosing Correct Blood Sample & Specimen Containers for Serology Tests

Please go to the Tests & Tubes database for specific test requirements for Serology Tests.

Specimen types you should send:

  • The serology section most commonly carries out tests on serum or plasma blood samples. Before sending a blood sample check if you require a serum or plasma sample for the test you request.
  • We carry out a variety of viral and bacterial diagnostics at the Old Medical School serology laboratory.
  • As a general rule to help you decide which bottle/container to choose:

Serum samples

  • for antibody detection tests (e.g. Hepatitis serology, atypical serology for Mycoplasma and Legionella antibody detection from serum).

Plasma samples

  • for molecular tests (e.g. viral PCRs including HIV, Hepatitis B & C viral load, CMV viral load, EBV viral load).

Other samples

  • PLEASE TELEPHONE IF UNSURE WHAT TO SEND (e.g. CSF for syphilis serology - send in sterile universal container, urine Legionella or Pneumococcal antigen - send urine in sterile universal).
  • If you are unclear about the correct tube you should use we will be happy to assist you in the right choice of container.

How to Collect the Sample

  • Collect serum or plasma blood samples by venepuncture or by sampling intravenous catheters. Follow local guidelines for venepuncture and sampling from intravenous catheters should those exist.
  • Observe universal precautions to reduce any potential infection risks through needle stick injuries. Wear gloves when obtaining blood samples to protect yourself.

Labelling

  • Please make sure that bottle(s) and request forms carry matching information for the patient. First Name, Surname, Date of Birth and Hospital Number are the minimal information required on the bottle label. Please write those details on the label with a permanent pen.
  • The request form should indicate the test requested and clinical information to help the laboratory in choosing the most appropriate test or suggest additional tests if necessary (e.g. "Returning traveller 5 weeks ex-India. Painless jaundice" for Hepatitis A IgM, Hepatitis B and C serology).
  • Provide a contact phone number if a discussion is necessary for additional testing.

Which Container does it go in?

 image of a Vacutainer® bottle as an example for serum sample bottles

The above image is a Vacutainer® bottle as an example for serum sample bottles.

 image of a Vacutainer® bottle as an example of a plasma samples bottle

The above image is a Vacutainer® bottle as an example of a plasma samples bottle.

 

An example for vacutainers: see the BD vacutainer tube guide.
An example for vacutainers: more on the BD vacutainer range.

image of a Universal sterile container for CSF or urine samples

The above image shows a Universal sterile container for CSF or urine samples (e.g. for CSF syphilis or CSF Toxoplasma serology or urinary Legionella antigen detection).

Transport

  • Use provided transport bag usually combined with request form.
  • Samples should reach the laboratory within 24 hrs. If this is not possible refrigerate.
 

Page Reviewed: 15/05/14 | Updated by: Kevin Roberts