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Common blood collection tubes, their

additives and laboratory uses


Posted on March 23, 2015 by Dhurba Giri in Biochemistry, General
Informations, Hematology, Immunology,Microbiology // 0 Comments
The evacuated tube system for blood collection in use for various laboratory tests consists of tubes of various
sizes, with color coded tops indicating tube contents. Most blood collection tubes contain an additive that either
accelerates clotting of the blood (clot activator) or prevents the blood from clotting (anticoagulant).

The list below lists the most commonly used blood collection tubes, their additives and uses in laboratory:

1. Red
The red bottle is less common it is used for biochemistry tests requiring serum which might be adversely
affected by the separator gel used in the yellow bottle.

Additive: None or contains silica particles which act as clot activators.

What additive does: Clot activator promotes blood clotting with glass or silica particles.

Laboratory Uses: Serum testing (glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, potassium, amylase,
alkaline phosphatase, BUN, CK, liver enzymes), blood bank, serology (RH Typing, Antibody screening,
Red Cell Phototyping, DAT, RPR, monospot, rheumatoid factor, ANA)

2. Yellow

Additive: anticoagulant SPS (Sodium Polyanetholsulfonate) & ACD (acid citrate dextrose)

What additive does: Prevents the blood from clotting and stabilizes bacterial growth.

Laboratory

Uses:

Blood

and

bodily

fluid

cultures

(HLA,

DNA,

Paternity)

Tubes with SPS For Blood and bodily fluid cultures (HLA, DNA, Paternity). The SPS aids in the recovery

of microorganisms by slowing down/ stopping the actions of complement, phagocytes, and certain
antibiotics.
Tubes with ACD are for cellular studies, HLA typing, paternity testing.

3. Light Blue
The blue bottle is used for haematology tests involving the clotting system, which require inactivated whole
blood for analysis.

Additive: Sodium Citrate

What additive does: Binds and remove calcium to prevent blood from clotting

Laboratory

uses:

Coagulation

(clotting

process-P.T)

PT (Prothrombin Time evaluates the extrinsic system of the coagulation cascade & monitors coumadin
therapy)
APTT/ PTT (Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time evaluates the intrinsic system of the coagulation
cascade

&

FDP

monitors

(Fibrinogen

TT

heparin

therapy)

Degradation

Products)

(Thrombin

Time)

Factor assays

4. Green
This less commonly used bottle is for biochemistry tests which require heparinised plasma or whole blood for
analysis.

Additive: Heparin (Sodium/Lithium/Ammonium)

What additive does: Inhibits thrombin formation to prevent clotting

Laboratory

uses:

Chemistry

Testing

(Plasma

determinations

in

chemistry)

ammonia,

carboxyhemoglobin & STAT electrolytes, chromosome screening, insulin, renin and aldosterone

5. Lavender
These bottles are generally used for haematology tests where whole blood is required for analysis.

Additive: EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid)

What additive does: Removes calcium preventing clotting of blood

Laboratory

uses:

Hematology

testing

(ESR,

CBC

w/diff.,

HgBA1c)

blood film for abnormal cells or malaria parasites, reticulocytes, red cell folate, Monospot test for EBV,
parathyroid hormone (PTH)

6. Grey

Additive: Potassium oxalate and Sodium fluoride

What additive does: Sodium fluoride acts as an antiglycolytic agent to ensure that no further glucose
breakdown occurs within the sample after it is taken. Potassium oxalate removes calcium and acts as

an anticoagulant.
Laboratory uses: Chemistry testing, especially glucose(sugar) and lactate, Glucose tolerance test
(GTT)

7. Royal Blue

Additive: Sodium Heparin also Sodium EDTA

What additive does: Inhibits Thrombin formation to prevent

Laboratory uses: Chemistry trace elements (such as Zinc, Copper, Lead and Mercury), toxicology,
and nutritional chemistry testing

8. Black

Additive: Sodium Citrate

What additive does: Forms calcium salts to remove calcium

Laboratory uses: paediatric ESR