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Which tubes for which blood tests?

What tube do I need?!?
Which tubes for which blood tests?

Your hospital may request different tubes to what I've listed below for certain tests. Check your local hospital policies.

Common blood tests (in order of draw) & corresponding tubes

  1. Blood cultures (culture bottles)
    • 2x bottles (1x aerobic bottle, 1x anaerobic bottle) → fill aerobic bottle first
    • 8-10mL each bottle
  2. Coagulation studies (blue sodium citrate)
    • e.g. PT, APTT, INR, D-dimer
    • Note: must be filled to line
    • 2.7mL
  3. Most biochemistry, immunology and serology (1. green yellow ring top lithium heparin gel or 2. plain red or 3. yellow SST)
    • e.g. LFT, EUC, troponins, hormones, lipids, drug levels, general serology, autoimmune, allergy screening
    • Minimum 2mL
    • Note: don't have to fill to line
  4. Blood bank (pink EDTA)
    • e.g. blood group, antibody screen/titres, crossmatch, group and hold, direct Coombs test
    • Note: label must be handwritten (i.e. don't put sticker on tube)
    • 6mL
  5. Haematology and some biochemistry (purple EDTA)
    • Haematology e.g. FBC, ESR, thalassemia studies/haemoglobin electrophoresis
    • Biochemistry e.g. HbA1c
    • 4mL


Note: the NSW Health Pathology Test Catalogue is the single best resource for NSW Health healthcare workers for deciding which blood tube is required.

  1. Clinpath: Tube guide
  2. SCHN: Blood collection
  3. NSW Health Pathology Test Catalogue

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