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Sample suitability and stability in different blood collection tubes for methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, acetone and glycols analysis
  1. Leonardo Cui1,2,
  2. John G. Swanwick1,
  3. Yu Chen1,3,4
  1. 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, Horizon Health Network, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
  2. 2Neuroscience Program, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3Department of Pathology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  4. 4Discipline of Laboratory Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yu Chen, Laboratory Medicine, Horizon Health Network, Fredericton, Canada; yu.chen{at}


Aim To systematically examine the sample suitability and stability for volatile alcohols (methanol, ethanol and isopropanol with its metabolite acetone) and glycols (ethylene/propylene glycols, EG/PG) in different collection tubes.

Method Two pools of whole blood were created and spiked with two levels of volatile alcohols and EG/PG. The spiked whole blood was added to six different blood collection tubes and were kept at different storage conditions. An aliquot was prepared from baseline replicates. Concentrations of volatile alcohols and glycols were analysed by gas chromatography.

Results All blood collection tubes have demonstrated similar performance over different storage conditions, that is, to be statistically insignificant (p>0.05) with the only exception of PG at the high concentration of day 7 at 4°C condition (p<0.05 but clinically insignificant as <clinical acceptable limit (CAL) of 25%). Compared with the baseline, most volatile alcohols showed statistical significance (p<0.05) but were clinically stable for all storage conditions (biases<CAL). Similarly, compared with day 1, most EG/PG were stable up to 28 days at −20°C. Aliquoted samples were clinically stable up to 28 days at −20°C.

Conclusion Grey/red/lavender, serum separator tube, plasma separator tube and the newly developed Barricor tubes are all suitable for volatile alcohols and EG/PG analysis. Primary samples are stable for 2 days room temperature, 14 days at 4°C and 28 days at −20°C for volatile alcohols, and 2 days room temperature, 7 days at 4°C, and 28 days at −20°C for EG. Aliquoted samples are stable up to 28 days at −20°C for all volatile alcohols and glycols.

  • Chemistry, Clinical
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures

Data availability statement

The data underlying this article are available in the article and in its online supplemental material.

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Data availability statement

The data underlying this article are available in the article and in its online supplemental material.

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  • Handling editor Patrick J Twomey.

  • Contributors YC conceptualised and designed the study, participated methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, acetone and glycols testing, and critically reviewed and revised the manuscript. LC carried out the statistical analyses and drafted and revised manuscript. JGS conducted methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, acetone and glycols testing and critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final version of the manuscript. YC acted as the guarantor of the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.