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What do the colors on blood collection tubes mean?

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A blood collection tube with a red top is used for immunology and serology and for cross matching at a blood bank, explains the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. The tube with a gold top is a serum separator tube, which separates the blood from serum during centrifugation. Tubes with light green tops contain lithium heparin to separate the plasma from the blood.

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A tube with a purple top contains ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, or EDTA, which removes calcium, notes the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. This tube is useful for a complete blood count and blood bank cross matching. Tubes with light blue tops are useful for coagulation tests because these tubes contain sodium citrate.

Tubes with green tops inactivate thrombin and thromboplastin, and phlebotomists use these to measure lithium or ammonia levels according to the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. A tube with a dark blue top is designed to be free of contaminating metals. Health care professionals use this tube for trace metal testing or toxicology testing. A tube with a light gray top has sodium fluoride and potassium oxalate. This tube measures glucose levels, and its anti-glycolytic agent preserves glucose for up to five days.

Tubes with yellow tops contain acid-citrate-dextrose, and phlebotomists use these for human leukocyte antigen tissue typing, DNA studies and paternity tests, reports the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. Health care workers use tubes with yellow-black tops for microbiology testing. Phlebotomists use tubes with black tops for Westergren sedimentation rate tests.

Health care professionals use tubes with orange tops for stat serum chemistries, tubes with brown tops for serum lead determination testing, and tubes with pink tops for immunohematology testing, states the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. Phlebotomists use tubes with white tops for molecular/polymerase chain reaction and branched DNA testing.

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