Selecting the right blood test tube and techniques for an accurate diagnosis

Page last updated: Wednesday, 3 May 2017 - 12:55pm

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Selecting the right tube for the chosen blood test, taking sufficient samples, and careful handling of those samples gives DAFWA Diagnostic Laboratory Services (DDLS) pathologists the best chance of accurately diagnosing a disease.

Matching the tube to the blood test

Sample requirements differ depending on whether the test request is for virology, serology, clinical biochemistry and/or haematology. The correct tubes for various applications are listed in Table 1.

Table 1 Match the tube to the blood test
Tube type Cap colour Amount in


Tests performed
Clotted (plain)
  • red
  • white
  • serology (antibody/antigen tests)
Lithium heparin
  • green
  • orange
  • clinical biochemistry
  • trace elements (selenium, cobalt, copper, zinc)
  • vitamins A and E

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA)

  • pink
  • purple
  • haematology and haemoparasite examination
  • thiamine assay
  • polymerase chain reaction (PCR) - including malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) and Hendra virus

Do not use fluoride oxalate tubes and specialist coagulation profile tubes for the tests in Table 1 above. Where specialised tests are required, contact DDLS on +61 (0)8 9368 3351 before submission.

Contact information

Livestock Biosecurity