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La Rivista Italiana della Medicina di Laboratorio 2019 Giugno;15(2):100-3

DOI: 10.23736/S1825-859X.19.00015-X

Copyright © 2019 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: Italian

Plasma and serum samples in clinical laboratories twenty years later

Romolo M. DORIZZI

Dipartimento di Anatomia Patologia, Medicina Trasfusionale e di Laboratorio, Laboratorio Unico della Romagna, Pievesestina di Cesena, Forlì-Cesena, Italia



An interesting document, recently published, updates the debate on the type of sample that the clinical laboratories should use. Historically serum was the preferred material but today plasma use is increasing in North Europe. The constituents in plasma better reflect the pathological conditions of patients and further advantages are shorter turn-around time, since plasma samples can be centrifuged immediately after sample collection, higher yield and prevention of coagulation-induced interferences. Disadvantages of serum are the longer turn-around-time since the sample must be centrifuged 30 minutes after blood drawing and the difference of the concentration of analytes such as sodium, potassium, ammonia, AST and LDH compared to plasma. The discussed document summarizes the large difference in the use of plasma samples in Europe that decreases from North to South along a sort of latitude gradient. In Italy the percentage of plasma tubes is about 25% of the total of used tubes and only in Veneto nears 50%. A similar trend can be observed in the mode the International System (Sistema Internazionale, SI) Units have been adopted in clinical Laboratories: it is almost universal in North Europe and lower than 10% in South Europe. Plasma samples and SI Units have been slowly adopted in many European countries notwithstanding the several harmonization projects carried out in many fields of Laboratory Medicine in the same years. In conclusion, the document can be recommended to all the laboratorians who wish to update their knowledge about the advantages/disadvantages of serum and plasma for properly assessing the best material for clinical chemistry tests in view of a possible shift from serum to plasma.


KEY WORDS: Plasma; Serum; Centrifugation

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