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Specimen Collection

Those Bloody Specimens And their Specimen Collection Tubes


Lab test results rely on the quality of the specimen. If the wrong method of collection or storage container is utilized, the results can be skewed or faulty. It is imperative that not professionals observe proper specimen collection, but also, they place the samples in the right type of specimen collection tubes or container. The varieties of specimen tubes include mucus specimen traps, urine collection containers and specimen collection containers.


Blood Specimens and their Collection Tubes: The Most Common Specimen Container


Blood collection sets may provide the wherewithal to draw blood. The actual lab tests tend to focus their research on one of three categories of blood. These are:


  • Plasma
  • Serum
  • Anticoagulated or whole blood


A different color collection tube identifies the contents of the tube and its intent.


Color Coding


The color of the top of each specimen collection tube clearly indicates the purpose of the collection, as well as the chemicals each tube contains. The color-coded specimen collection tubes reflect a rainbow-inspired system and feature the following:


  • Green-Top Tube (Sodium Heparin):  Fro special tests. It collects either heparinized plasma or whole blood
    Grey-Top Tube (Potassium Oxalate/Sodium Fluoride):  This preserves glucose in whole blood
  • Lavender-Top Tube (EDTA):  Common for use in most hematological procedures
    Light Blue-Top Tube (Sodium Citrate):  Employed for drawing blood for research and test in coagulation
  • Red-Top Tube:  Provides serum for clotted blood studies for immunohematology and/or selected chemistry tests
  • Royal Blue-Top Tube: Two types exist for the collection of serum or whole blood:
    • Anticoagulant EDTA
    • Plain  


Applications of both are for the analysis of trace elements. Yellow-Top Tube (ACD): Special tests often require this collection of whole blood


Other Types of Specimen Collection Tubes


Besides color-coded, other specimen collection tubes are available for use. Among them are


  • Serum Gel Tube:  a clot activator and serum gel separator and is used for various laboratory tests.
  • Special Collection Tubes: Some tests require specific tubes for proper analysis.
  • Mucus Specimen Traps: Used for taking tracheotomy cultures. Normally found pre-packaged in a sterile wrapping.
  • Urine Specimen Collection Containers: Used when larger specimens are needed, such as urine for urinalysis.


Use only the correctly identifiable collection tubes and containers in conjunction with compatible accessories.