Effect of syringe underfilling on the quality of venous blood gas analysis

Diagnosis (Berl). 2023 Sep 5. doi: 10.1515/dx-2023-0096. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: There is limited information on the influence of collecting small amounts of blood on the quality of blood gas analysis. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of different degrees of underfilling of syringes on test results of venous blood gas analysis.

Methods: Venous blood was collected by venipuncture from 19 healthcare workers in three 1.0 mL syringes for blood gas analysis, by manually aspirating different volumes of blood (i.e., 1.0, 0.5 and 0.25 mL). Routine blood gas analysis was then immediately performed with GEM Premier 5,000. The results of the two underfilled syringes were compared with those of the reference syringe filled with appropriate blood volume.

Results: The values of most assayed parameters did not differ significantly in the two underfilled syringes. Statistically significant variations were found for lactate, hematocrit and total hemoglobin, the values of which gradually increased as the fill volume diminished, as well as for sodium concentration, which decreased in both insufficiently filled blood gas syringes. The bias was clinically meaningful for lactate in syringe filled with 0.25 mL of blood, and for hematocrit, total hemoglobin and sodium in both syringes containing 0.5 and 0.25 mL of blood.

Conclusions: Collection of smaller volumes of venous blood than the specified filling volume in blood gas syringes may have an effect on the quality of some test results, namely lactate, hematocrit, total hemoglobin and sodium. Specific indications must be given for standardizing the volume of blood to be collected within these syringes.

Keywords: blood gas analysis; errors; preanalytical variability; syringe; underfilling.