a smart alternative to venous blood draws
by Neoteryx Microsampling on May 22, 2017 6:01:00 AM
Venous blood draws are a source of stress or anxiety for many people, who may have a fear of needles.
If you've ever participated in a clinical trial or visited a clinic for a blood test, you know that a venous blood draw is not always a pleasant experience. As a requirement for a research study, part of a physical exam or as a follow-up to a specific diagnosis and treatment, the phlebotomist prepares a needle and some specimen vials or tubes. This is followed by a search for a vein that will deliver a good blood flow. After a few uncomfortable minutes, a vial or more of your blood is removed, and you head home.
Anticipation, travel, and the inevitable wait for blood draws can be time consuming and anxiety provoking. Yet, blood tests are a critical component of research and medicine.
Many scientific and medical decisions result from the data derived from blood sample testing. However, for people living in remote areas and far from medical facilities, the blood sampling process can consume hours and days. In situations where a person's condition must be monitored continually, the blood sampling process can become extremely burdensome, though no less necessary.
Whole Blood Sample Transport
Not every clinic or blood draw center is equipped to analyze blood samples. In some remote areas of the world, blood samples must be shipped or couriered to a laboratory in a distant location. Whole blood must be captured in a sterile container and immediately refrigerated at a constant temperature below 45°F or 8° C. Whole blood samples must be used within seven days.
Blood shipments are labeled as a hazardous material and must be transported with dry ice to maintain the required low temperature. The process is cumbersome and expensive and requires special packaging and handling procedures. Many times, samples arrive but are not analyzable because of temperature problems or lapsed time.
Smarter Blood Sampling: DBS and Microsampling
There are now two excellent alternatives to whole blood sampling. These two options are known as "microsampling" and they enable remote, self-collection of blood samples from a quick finger-stick.
The first option is dried blood spot (DBS) microsampling, whereby a lancet is used to prick a fingertip and draw a drop of blood. The fingerstick blood drops are placed onto a specially treated "DBS card" made of special filter paper. Once dried, the DBS card is inserted into a protective envelope and mailed to the research facility, clinic or other destination without dry ice or any special handling. The DBS approach is convenient, but a high variability in the blood samples that are applied to the DBS card can negatively impact the data.
Another microsampling option is volumetric microsampling with a remote device that absorbs a precise volume of blood from a finger-stick with lancet. The advantage of using the volumetric microsampling approach is that the blood samples are of the same size and quality, so they typically deliver reliable data.
Both volumetric microsampling devices draw only a tiny, fixed quantity of blood that can be mailed or carried to the lab without refrigeration or special handling. Anyone can use these devices anywhere with minimal training.
Both of these blood microsampling alternatives are smart solutions for remote sampling. These options are ideal for people requiring frequent testing to measure their ongoing condition or progress with a treatment.
Also, the less invasive finger-stick sample collection method can be a useful option in areas where medical or research facilities are simply too far away for regular visits.