Serum indices: managing assay interference

Ann Clin Biochem. 2016 Sep;53(Pt 5):527-38. doi: 10.1177/0004563216643557. Epub 2016 May 3.


Clinical laboratories frequently encounter samples showing significant haemolysis, icterus or lipaemia. Technical advances, utilizing spectrophotometric measurements on automated chemistry analysers, allow rapid and accurate identification of such samples. However, accurate quantification of haemolysis, icterus and lipaemia interference is of limited value if laboratories do not set rational alert limits, based on sound interference testing experiments. Furthermore, in the context of increasing consolidation of laboratories and the formation of laboratory networks, there is an increasing requirement for harmonization of the handling of haemolysis, icterus and lipaemia-affected samples across different analytical platforms. Harmonization may be best achieved by considering both the analytical aspects of index measurement and the possible variations in the effects of haemolysis, icterus and lipaemia interferences on assays from different manufacturers. Initial verification studies, followed up with ongoing quality control testing, can help a laboratory ensure the accuracy of haemolysis, icterus and lipaemia index results, as well as assist in managing any biases in index results from analysers from different manufacturers. Similarities, and variations, in the effect of haemolysis, icterus and lipaemia interference in assays from different manufacturers can often be predicted from the mechanism of interference. Nevertheless, interference testing is required to confirm expected similarities or to quantify differences. It is important that laboratories are familiar with a number of interference testing protocols and the particular strengths and weaknesses of each. A rigorous approach to all aspects of haemolysis, icterus and lipaemia interference testing allows the analytical progress in index measurement to be translated into improved patient care.

Keywords: Haemolysis; icterus; index; indices; interference; lipaemia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / standards*
  • Hemolysis
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / blood
  • Jaundice / blood
  • Quality Improvement
  • Reproducibility of Results