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Vacutainer tubes are used for the collection of blood, with a few exceptions. In order to ensure accuracy of results it is vital that the tubes containing Anticoagulant be filled to capacity. An improperly filled anticoaguled tube will result in an abnormal anticoagulant / blood ratio and can affect results. Vacutainer tube should be allowed to fill completely before being removed from the collection device.

Listed below are the types of blood collection tubes available in the laboratory.


Red top tubes contain no anticoagulant and are used for tests which require serum for analysis. They are available in a 10ml, 5ml  and 3 ml size and do not have a silicone barrier. These tubes are the ONLY ones that can be used to collect samples for BLOOD BANK procedures and all therapeutic drug levels.


The gold hemoguard top tube comes in 6.0 mL.  It contains a clot enhancer and contains a silicone which forms a seal between the cells and serum when it is centrifuged.


The inside wall of this tube is coated with either lithium or sodium heparin as the anticoagulant. These are required for the collection of certain tests and may be used for a large number of tests where whole blood or plasma is required. Green top cannot be used for amylase, lipase, troponin, AST, LIVP, CMP, BHCG. Only tubes with lithium heparin as the anti-coagulant are acceptable for chemistry testing.


This tube contains EDTA (ethylenediamintetra-acetate) as the anticoagulant and is used for most hematological procedures. This tube available in 3 mL size.


This tube type contains EDTA (ethylenediamintetra-acetate) K2 and is used for collection of HIV Viral Load specimens.  It may also be used for collection of specimens for Hepatitis C PCR testing (both Qualitative and Quantitative) and HIV-1 Genotyping.  This tube is available in a 5 mL size.


This tube type contains 3.2% of Buffered Sodium Citrate as the anticoagulant.  Two tube sizes are available 3.0 & 2.0ml tubes.  It is used for prothrombin time and other coagulation studies. Because of the ratio of blood to anticoagulant required for accuracy, tubes must be 90% full. Short draws will only be used with physician permission. Clotted, moderate and marked hemolysis will warrant recollection.


This tube type contains Sodium Fluoride Potassium Oxalate.  It is available in a 2 mL draw tube. It is used for lactic acid (must be collected on ice and transported immediately to the lab) and glucose testing.


MICROTAINER BLOOD COLLECTION DEVICES are the tubes of choice when collecting small amounts of specimen.  The microtainers come in red tops, lithium heparin green tops and lavender tops.
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