Dried blood spot testing, also known as DBS, is a user-friendly method of collecting a blood sample (Fokkema, 2009). While traditional blood testing methods often require a trip to the doctor’s office or a blood collection centre, DBS testing allows users to collect their samples from home. No large tubes of blood, no long waiting times at the clinic, and no uncertainty about when you will receive your test results. This is exactly what DBS makes possible.
How does a dried blood spot test work?
Unlike typical blood sampling which usually involves collecting blood from a vein in the elbow or hand, DBS is done by pricking a finger and depositing drops of blood onto a specially treated filter paper. This paper is then dried and can be easily stored and transported to a laboratory (Smit et al., 2014). DBS has received growing attention in recent years because of its many advantages and applications compared to other forms of blood sampling.
The difference between dried blood spot testing and capillary blood sampling
Dried blood spot testing is not the only method of blood collection that can be performed via a finger prick. The most common home blood collection method is capillary blood sampling. This sample method involves pricking the finger and collecting the blood in a small tube, after which is sent to a laboratory. Capillary blood sampling has emerged as a less-invasive alternative to drawing blood from a vein, as well as a method of sampling that can be done by an individual without special training. This makes it possible for people to conduct the blood sample themselves from home.
Why is dried blood spot testing beneficial?
While capillary blood sampling has several advantages to traditional blood testing methods and allows users to collect a sample from home, it also has some disadvantages. As such, DBS testing is increasingly being used as an alternative where possible. Keep reading to learn the main advantages of DBS testing and why it is Homed-IQ’s priority to shift towards this sampling method.
One of the biggest advantages of DBS is the convenience it offers users. Instead of visiting a clinic or hospital for a regular blood draw, you can easily take a DBS test from home.
Simply use the materials supplied in the test kit to disinfect and prick your finger before depositing drops of blood on the collection card. After drying, you can send the test by regular mail to Homed-IQ’s certified laboratory for analysis. This simple process saves time, money, and allows users to get tested in anonymity.
2) Highly sample stability
Another important advantage of DBS is the high stability of samples compared to capillary sampling. Blood collected via capillary sampling often has a shelf life of no more than 5 to 7 days and can be sensitive to fluctuations in temperature. Conversely, DBS samples can often be stored for weeks under proper storage conditions without the quality of the sample being compromised. This is a significant advantage and allows more flexibility in sample collection and shipping.
3) Fewer biological hazards
Since DBS samples do not involve any liquid blood, biohazardous and infectious disease risks during shipping and processing of samples are lower compared to capillary blood samples (Carter, 2020). This allows DBS samples to be easily collected and shipped to the laboratory (D. H. Vu, 2011).
4) A better customer experience
The main advantage of DBS testing is that the sample collection method is easy. While capillary blood sampling also requires a finger prick, with DBS the blood is easily dripped onto a paper collection card rather than filling a tube with drops of blood. Most importantly, less blood is needed for DBS samples, making the test process smoother for individuals who may struggle to obtain adequate amounts of blood from a finger prick. The ease of DBS contributes to a positive customer experience and may make users more likely to opt for DBS testing in the future.
5) Fast, accurate processing
All DBS collection cards are pre-labelled with a unique test code. When the sample arrives in the lab, the code is scanned and it is immediately recognized by the system. This system ensures streamlined processing of the sample and minimises human error. The barcode allows users to track the progress of their sample from the time it is received in the lab to the final result. This provides clarity about the test processing times and allows users to immediately access their test results when they are ready. In addition to faster processing, the code provides an extra layer of security and privacy, as personal information about the patient is not directly displayed on the card.
Dried blood spot testing is a user-friendly sampling method that offers significant advantages over capillary blood sampling. The convenience for the user, possibility of long-term storage of blood samples, and easy test process make DBS a valuable choice for a variety of medical applications. DBS is currently used in a range of diagnostic settings, and is emerging in the home health testing landscape as an important tool. As remote health care and personalised medicine rise in popularity, this innovative sampling method has the potential to change the future of blood testing.
Homed-IQ consciously chooses to offer our home blood tests with dried blood spot sampling when possible, and is actively working with our laboratory partners to validate new biomarkers for DBS in the future. As DBS technology improves and acceptance of this testing method grows, we expect that the use of this testing method will grow quickly.
If you would like to know more about the benefits and applications of dried blood spot testing, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to answer your questions.
Carter, E. (2020, June 30). The advantages of dried blood spot testing. SelectScience. https://www.selectscience.net/industry-news/the-advantages-of-dried-blood-spot-testing/
Fokkema, M. R., Bakker, A. J., de Boer, F., Kooistra, J., de Vries, S., & Wolthuis, A. (2009). HbA1c measurements from dried blood spots: validation and patient satisfaction. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, 47(10), 1259-1264. https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2009.274
Smit, P. W., Sollis, K. A., Fiscus, S. A., Ford, N., Vitória, M., Essajee, S., Barnett, D., Cheng, B., Crowe, S., Denny, T. N., Landay, A., Stevens, W., Habiyambere, V., Perriëns, J. H., & Peeling, R. W. (2014). Systematic review of the use of dried blood spots for monitoring HIV viral load and for early infant diagnosis. PLOS ONE, 9(3), e86461. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0086461
Vu, D. H., Alffenaar, J. W.C., Edelbroek, P. M., Brouwers, J. R.B.J., & Uges, D. R.A. (2011). Dried Blood Spots: A New Tool for Tuberculosis Treatment Optimization. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 17(27), 2931-2939. https://doi.org/10.2174/138161211797470174
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