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This section contains information about commonly used laboratory tests. It includes most of the blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid tests found in this book, with the exception of therapeutic drug monitoring and pharmacogenetic tests (see Chapter 4). Entries are arranged alphabetically.

Test/Reference Range/Collection

This first column lists the common test name, the specimen analyzed, and any test name abbreviation (in parentheses).

Below this is the reference range (also called reference interval) for each test. The first entry is in conventional units, and the second entry (in [brackets]) is in SI units (Système International d’Unités). Any panic values for a particular test are placed here after the word Panic. The reference ranges provided are from several large medical centers; consult your own clinical laboratory for those used in your institution.

This column also shows which tube to use for collecting blood and other body fluids, how much the test costs (using symbols; see below), and how to collect the specimen.

The scale used for the cost of each test is:

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Approximate Cost Symbol Used in Tables
$1–20 $
$21–50 $$


> $100


Listed below are the common specimen collection tubes and their contents:

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Tube Top Color Tube Contents Typical Use
Lavender or Pink K2EDTA Complete blood count; blood banking (plasma); molecular testing (cell-based); flow cytometry (immunophenotyping)
Gold SST Clot activator and gel for serum separation Serum chemistry tests
White PPT K2EDTA and gel for plasma separation Molecular testing (plasma-based)
Red None Blood banking (serum); therapeutic drug monitoring
Blue Sodium citrate Coagulation studies
Green PPT, Light green PPT Sodium heparin or lithium heparin (green PPT, without gel; light green PPT, with gel for plasma separation) Plasma chemistry tests (light green PPT); chromosome analysis (sodium heparin) (green PPT)
Yellow Acid citrate dextrose (ACD); sodium polyanethol sulfonate (SPS) ACD: HLA typing; blood banking (plasma); flow cytometry (immunophenotyping) SPS: Blood culture (microbiology)
Dark blue Clot activator (free of trace metal) Trace metals (eg, lead, mercury, arsenic)
Orange RST Thrombin and gel for serum separation Serum chemistry tests
Navy Trace metal-free Trace metals (eg, lead, mercury, arsenic)
Gray Inhibitor of glycolysis (sodium fluoride) Lactic acid; glucose
Black Sodium citrate; None (plain black screw top) Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (sodium citrate); sterile body fluids for microbiology (plain black screw top)

ACD, acid citrate dextrose; EDTA, ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid; PPT, plasma preparation tube; RST, rapid serum tube; SPS, sodium polyanethol sulfonate; SST, serum separator tube.

Physiologic Basis

This column contains physiologic information about the substance being tested. Information on classification and biologic importance, as well as interactions with other biologic substances and processes, is included.

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