How are samples collected and prepared for hepatitis C (HCV) assays?

Updated: Jul 14, 2021
  • Author: Joel Schifter, MD; Chief Editor: Eric B Staros, MD  more...
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Obtain 3.5 mL of blood in a gold top tube (serum separator tube), a plain red top tube, or serum separator microtainer. The patient does not need special preparation. The specimen is allowed to clot; it should be centrifuged and refrigerated or frozen for transport and stabilization.

For HCV RNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in adults, 4-6 mL of blood should be collected into an ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA; purple-top) tube. In infants, 2 mL of blood is collected into a pediatric EDTA (purple-top) tube. In newborns, a full purple/lavender-top microtainer tube should be obtained.

Following collection, the specimen must be immediately brought to the laboratory for processing. The patient does not need any special preparation. In the laboratory, the plasma is separated from whole blood within 6 hours of collection by centrifugation at room temperature.

For HCV genotyping, 6 mL of patient’s blood sample is collected in an EDTA tube. The plasma must be separated and frozen within 4 hours of collection; it is centrifuged and must be frozen for transport and stabilizing.

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