This method is commonly used in infants and small children and if the amount of blood required is small. It is suitable for cell counts, estimation of hemoglobin, determination of hematocrit by micro method, and preparation of blood films. Blood obtained by skin puncture is also called as capillary blood. However, it is a mixture of blood from capillaries, venules, and arterioles. It also contains some tissue fluid. In adults, blood is obtained from the side of a ring or middle finger (distal digit) or ear lobe. In infants, it is collected from the heel (lateral or medial aspect of plantar surface) or great toe (see Figure 796.1).
The puncture site is cleansed with 70% ethanol or other suitable disinfectant. After drying, a puncture, sufficiently deep to allow free flow of blood, is made with a sterile, dry, disposable lancet. The first drop of blood is wiped away with sterile, dry cotton as it contains tissue fluid. Next few drops of blood are collected. Excessive squeezing should be avoided, as it will dilute the blood with tissue fluid. After collection a piece of sterile cotton is pressed over the puncture site till bleeding ceases. As compared to the venous blood, hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red cell count are slightly higher in blood from skin puncture. As platelets adhere to the puncture site, platelet count is lower. Because of small sample size, immediate repeat testing is not possible if the result is abnormal. Blood should not be collected from cold, cyanosed skin since false elevation of values of hemoglobin and red/white cell counts will be obtained.
VENOUS BLOOD COLLECTION
When multiple tests are to be done and larger quantity of blood is needed, anticoagulated venous blood should be obtained.
- Due to the ease of access, blood is best obtained from the veins of the antecubital fossa (see Figure; Common sites of venepuncture in antecubital fossa (red circles)). A rubber tourniquet (18 inches long × 3/4 or 1 inch in adults and 12 inches × 1/8 inch in children) is applied to the upper arm. It should not be too tight and should not remain in place for more than two minutes. Patient is asked to make a fist so that veins become more prominent and palpable.
- Venepuncture site is cleansed with 70% ethanol and allowed to dry.
- The selected vein is anchored by compressing and pulling the soft tissues below the puncture site with the left hand.
- Sterile, disposable needles and syringes should be used for venepuncture. Needle size should be 19- to 21-gauge in adults and 23-gauge in children. Venepuncture is performed with the bevel of the needle up and along the direction of the vein. Blood is withdrawn slowly. Pulling the plunger quickly can cause hemolysis and collapse of the vein. Tourniquet should be released as soon as the blood begins to flow into the syringe.
- When the required amount of blood is withdrawn, the patient is asked to open his/her fist. The needle is withdrawn from the vein. A sterile cotton gauze is pressed over the puncture site. Patient is asked to press the gauze over the site till bleeding stops.
- The needle is detached from the syringe and the required amount of blood is carefully delivered into the tube containing appropriate anticoagulant (see later). If the blood is forced through the needle without detaching it, hemolysis can occur. Containers may be glass bottles or disposable plastic tubes with caps and flat bottom.
- Blood is mixed with the anticoagulant in the container thoroughly by gently inverting the container several times. The container should not be shaken vigorously as it can cause frothing and hemolysis.
Check whether the patient is feeling faint and bleeding has stopped. Cover the puncture site with an adhesive bandage strip. After use, disposable needles should be placed in a puncture-proof container for proper disposal. Recapping of needle by hand can cause needle-stick injury. The container is labeled. Time of collection should be noted on the label. Sample should be sent immediately to the laboratory with accompanying properly filled order form.
- Blood is never collected from an intravenous line or from the arm being used for intravenous line (since it will dilute the blood sample). Blood is not collected from a sclerosed vein and from an area with hematoma.
- Tourniquet should not be too tight and should not be applied for more than 2 minutes as it will cause hemoconcentration and alteration of test results.
- Puncture site should be allowed to dry completely after cleaning with alcohol (before performing the venepuncture).
- Tourniquet should be released before removing the needle from the vein (to prevent hematoma formation).
- To avoid hemolysis, blood is withdrawn gradually, a small-bore needle should not be used, and the needle is detached from the syringe before dispensing blood into the container.
- All blood samples are considered as infectious and proper precautions should be observed while collecting blood either from a vein or a skin puncture. Anticoagulated blood sample should be tested within 1-2 hours of collection. If this is not possible, sample can be stored in a refrigerator at 4-6°C for maximum of 24 hours. After the sample is taken out of refrigerator, it should be allowed to return to room temperature, mixed properly, and then tested.
- Failure to obtain blood: This happens if vein is missed, or excessive pull is applied to the plunger causing collapse of the vein.
- Occurrence of hematoma, thrombosis, thrombophlebitis, abscess, or bleeding.
- Transmission of infections like hepatitis B or human immuno-deficiency virus if reusable needles and syringes, which are not properly sterilised, are used.
- First tube: Blood culture.
- Second tube: Plain tube (serum).
- Third tube: Tube containing anticoagulant (EDTA, citrate, or heparin).
- Fourth tube: Tube containing additional stabilizing agent like fluoride.
|Dipotassium EDTA||20 gm|
|Distilled water||200 ml|
|Ammonium oxalate||1.2 gm|
|Potassium oxalate||0.8 gm|
|Distilled water||upto 100 ml|
|Trisodium citrate||3.2 gm|
|Distilled water||upto 100 ml|
Use 1:9 (anticoagulant: blood) proportion for coagulation studies; for ESR, 1:4 proportion is recommended.
- Autoagglutination: Presence of IgM autoantibodies reactive at room temperature in patient’s serum can lead to autoagglutination. If autocontrol is not used, blood group in such a case will be wrongly typed as AB. Therefore, for correct result, if autocontrol is also showing agglutination, cell grouping should be repeated after washing red cells with warm saline, and serum grouping should be repeated at 37°C.
- Rouleaux formation: Rouleux formation refers to red cells adhering to each other like a stack of coins and can be mistaken for agglutination. Rouleaux formation is caused by high levels of fibrinogen, immunoglobulins, or intravenous administration of a plasma expander such as dextran. Rouleaux formation (but not agglutination) can be dispersed by addition of normal saline during serum grouping.
- False-negative result due to inactivated antisera: For preservation of potency of antisera, they should be kept stored at 4°-6°C. If kept at room temperature for long, antisera are inactivated and will give false-negative result.
- Age: Infants start producing ABO antibodies by 3-6 months of age and serum grouping done before this age will yield false-negative result. Elderly individuals also have low antibody levels.
- A clean and dry glass slide is divided into two sections with a glass marking pencil. The sections are labeled as anti-A and anti-B to identify the antisera (see Figure 786.2).
- Place one drop of anti-A serum and one drop of anti-B serum in the center of the corresponding section of the slide. Antiserum must be taken first to ensure that no reagents are missed.
- Add one drop of blood sample to be tested to each drop of antiserum.
- Mix antiserum and blood by using a separate stick or a separate corner of a slide for each section over an area about 1 inch in diameter.
- By tilting the slide backwards and forwards, examine for agglutination after exactly two minutes.
Positive (+): Little clumps of red cells are seen floating in a clear liquid.
Negative (–): Red cells are floating homogeneously in a uniform suspension.
- Interpretation: Interpret the result as shown in the Table 786.1 and Figure 786.2.
Separate tubes of auto-control, positive control, and negative control should always be setup along with the test sample tube. Auto-control tube consists of mixture of patient’s red cells and patient’s own serum. This is required to rule out false-positive result due to auto antibodies in patient’s serum causing auto agglutination of patient’s own red cells. Auto-control test is particularly essential when ABO grouping is being done only by forward method and blood group is typed as AB. If there are auto antibodies in recipient’s serum, ABO grouping, Rh typing, antibody screening, and cross matching all will show positive result.
If forward grouping, reverse grouping, and autocontrol tests are all positive, then these results are probably indicative of a cold-reactive autoantibody. Before performing forward typing, red cells should be washed with normal saline to elute the antibody. Before performing reverse grouping, autoantibody should be adsorbed by washed cells till autocontrol is negative.
- Scan the slide in a methodical grid pattern, in order not to cover the same area twice. Counts can be completed quickly under 400×magnification, but if you are also evaluating morphology, 1000×magnification should be used.
- Count a minimum of 100 WBCs.
- Manual or microscopic method
- Automated method
Hemocytometer with cover glass, compound microscope.
HgCl2 0.05 gm
NaSO4 2.5 gm
NaCl 0.5 gm
Distilled water 100 ml
- Wipe finger with cotton soaked with alcohol, with a sterile lancet do small prick on the finger tip. Use pipette. Aspirate blood to 0.5.
- Aspirate diluting Hayem’s solution to the 101 mark. It will give 1:200 dilution of the blood.
- Hold the pipette horizontally and role it with both hands between finger and thumb.
- Place the counting chamber, absolutely free from dust and grease, on the table and lay the cover glass in place over the ruled area.
- Discard the first two or three drops from the pipette. Charge the counting chamber by holding the pipette in an inclined position. Allow 3 minutes for the cells to settle.
- Locate the central square, which is divided into 25 medium sized squares. Each of the medium sized squares is further divided into 16 smallest squares.
- Count the erythrocytes in medium sized squares (80 smallest squares) using high power objective.
- In order to avoid confusion in counting, count all cells wihich touch the upper and left outer double line of the group of 16 squares as if they were inside the square. Neglect all those cells, which touch the lower and right inner line.
= 1/5 sq mm
= 1/5 sqmm x 1/10 mm
= 1/50 cu mm
(1) Increased in numbers of RBC called polycythemia it is due to
• Bone marrow failure
• Erythropoietin deficiency (2ndry to kidney disease)
• Hemolysis (RBC destruction) from transfusion reaction
• Multiple myloma
• Nutritional deficiencies of (Iron, Copper, Folate, Vit B12, B6)
• Newborns: 4.8-7.2 millions
• Children: 3.8-5.5 millions
• Adult ( male): 4.6-6.0 millions
• Adult (Females): 4.2-5.0 millions
• Pregnancy: slightly lower than normal
- Brown, B.A., Haemotology, Principles and Procedures, Lea & Febiger, U.S.A., 1976.
- Hoffbrand, A. V. and Pettit, 1. E., Essential Haemotology, Blackwell Scientific Publication, U.S.A., 1980.
- Kassirsky, I. and Alexeev, G., Clinical Haemotology, Mir Publishers, U.S.S.R., 1972.
- Widmann, F.K., Clinical interpretation of Laboratory tests, F.A. Davis Company, U.S.A., 1985.
- Kirk, C.J.C. et al, Basic Medical Laboratory Technology, Pitman Book Ltd., U.K. 1982.
- Green, J.H., An Introduction to human Physiology, Oxford University Press, U.K., 1980.