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Babies in hospital may be spared discomfort and even blood transfusions with a device that measures haemoglobin concentration in only 20 μl of blood. The HemoCue requires just a fraction of the 500 μl samples routinely requested for haemoglobin estimation and has already been tested for estimations at the bedside in children and fetuses. Now a study in a district general hospital has established its suitability for neonates, in whom it would help to reduce the impact of frequent blood sampling in intensive care.
Blood samples tested directly by the HemoCue and the hospital's standard STKS Coulter method showed a mean difference in haemoglobin concentration of only 2.5 g/l. Virtually all (95%) of the 82 samples tested fell within a 7.5 g/l difference in concentration, below that judged to be clinically significant.
Two sets of samples were tested. One set comprised 32 samples taken into EDTA from babies in the intensive care or low dependency units, from which 2 × 10 μl aliquots were placed into HemoCue cuvettes containing dried reactants and measured for their absorbance. Within one minute a comparison of the readings is converted into a displayed concentration. Then the original samples were analysed by the haematology laboratory by the standard method. The other set comprised 50 random neonatal samples already held in the haematology laboratory, which were tested by each method.