Measurement of blood glucose: comparison between different types of specimens

Ann Clin Biochem 2008;45:140-148
© 2008 Association for Clinical Biochemistry


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Original Article

Bendix Carstensen 1 ,
J Lindström 2,
J Sundvall 3,
K Borch-Johnsen 1,
J Tuomilehto 2 4 the DPS Study Group

1 Steno Diabetes Center, Niels Steensens Vej 2, DK-2820 Gentofte, Denmark;
2 Diabetes Unit;
3 Department of Health and Disability, National Public Health Institute;
4 Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, FI-00300 Helsinki, Finland

Corresponding author: Dr Bendix Carstenen. Email: bxc{at}

Aim: To provide conversion formulae between measurements based ondifferent specimens in use in epidemiological studies and clinicalpractice, and to evaluate the relative precision for the differentmethods.

Background: The current guidelines emphasize the use of venous plasma fordetermining glucose concentration. Nevertheless, the World HealthOrganization (WHO) guidelines provide cut-off points for differentspecimens for the determination of the glucose concentrationin circulating blood (venous plasma, whole blood, serum andcapillary blood). There is a lack of data about the comparabilitybetween the values obtained by using different specimens.

Methods: Eleven different combinations of specimens and methods of measurementof blood glucose were used in 294 blood samples from 74 subjects.The methods were grouped by the specimen used for analysis (venousplasma, whole blood, serum and capillary blood).

Results: The result of the analysis is a set of linear equations allowingconversion of the result from one specimen or method to another.Furthermore, it was estimated how much of the variation foreach method can be attributed to laboratory variance.

Conclusions: Measurements based on capillary blood had a very large variabilitycompared with other methods. Measurements based on venous wholeblood tended to give results 0.5 mmol/L lower than other methods.Our data indicate that the current diagnostic cut-off points,as recommended by WHO for non-plasma specimens, are not fullycompatible and may differ as much as 0.5 mmol/L between specimens.

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