Dried Blood Spot Sample Collection: The Pros And Cons

Here's what you should know about dried blood spot sample collection

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The medical world continuously evolves, leveraging technology to make healthcare more effective and patient-friendly.

One such innovation is the advent of dried blood spot (DBS) sample collection – an alternative to traditional lab-based blood testing. DBS offers many advantages and could revolutionize how we conduct health tests, but it also comes with drawbacks. 

Let’s take a deep dive into this burgeoning practice.

What is Dried Blood Sample Collection?

DBS sample collection is a simple method allowing individuals to take their blood samples home.

Using a small, specially designed lancet, a person pricks their finger and places droplets of blood onto a filter paper. After the blood dries, the sample is ready for mailing to a laboratory in a secure, pre-paid envelope.

Upon arrival, lab technicians can perform various analyses on dried blood spots.

Advantages of Dried Blood Spot Sample Collection

Compared to traditional blood draws, DBS sample collection offers several advantages. 

Convenience. Primarily, it eliminates the need to travel to a lab, making it an excellent option for those living in remote locations, people with limited mobility, and individuals with busy schedules. 

Less invasive. It also benefits needle-phobic patients, as it involves a less invasive procedure. 

Reduce disease transmission. DBS sample collection is particularly valuable in pandemic situations, where it reduces the risk of viral transmission associated with visiting healthcare facilities.

Stable and storable. The DBS method allows for the stable and long-term storage of samples, ensuring sample integrity for prolonged periods, even at room temperature. This is in stark contrast to the more complex storage and transportation requirements of conventional blood samples.

Less expensive. The DBS technique can be highly economical as it lowers sample collection, transportation, and storage costs.

The Drawbacks of Dried Blood Spot 

Despite the numerous benefits, it is crucial to acknowledge some limitations of the DBS method.

Limited test options. For instance, it may not be appropriate for all types of tests. Some diagnostic evaluations require large volumes of plasma or serum, making the conventional venous blood draw a more suitable option.

Blood volume varies. Another concern with DBS is the potential variability in the volume of blood applied to the paper, which could influence the test results. The spot size can vary based on how hard an individual pricks their finger or how much pressure they apply when touching the paper.

Blood quality varies. The quality of the collected sample may also be influenced by personal variables such as hydration status, ambient humidity, or individual hematocrit levels.

Some might also worry about the safety of pricking their own fingers. While DBS kits come with clear instructions and safety measures, they do require a level of user competency and confidence. Although very rare, misuse can lead to potential infection or inadequate sample collection.

Additional Considerations

The regulatory and ethical framework for self-sampling methods, including DBS, is still developing. Issues regarding consent, data security, and quality control need clear guidelines and policies to ensure the appropriate and ethical use of home-based sampling.

Studies have shown that most patients prefer DBS compared to visiting the lab for a blood draw. They appreciate the convenience and control DBS offers. Still, others prefer the reassurance that comes with a healthcare professional drawing their blood.

Despite these considerations, the future of DBS sample collection seems promising.

With advancements in technology and bioanalytics, the range of tests that can be performed using DBS is likely to expand. Potential solutions are being researched to minimize the effect of sample variability, making DBS more reliable and accurate.

Is DBS the Future of Blood Sample Collection?

DBS sample collection is a revolutionary innovation in the medical field.

Its convenience, cost-effectiveness, and suitability for remote testing make it a promising alternative to traditional lab-based blood tests. Yet, it’s crucial to remember it is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

The choice between DBS and conventional lab testing should be made considering the type of test required, the specific needs of the patient, and the clinical context.

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