One of the most common laboratory processes is the separation of blood. The process involves the spinning and separation of blood samples into different components. In instances where specific blood components are required for medical purposes, blood centrifuges are used to split up platelets, plasma, and red blood cells.
When using a blood centrifuge, users need to follow a set of guidelines. The use of a blood centrifuge will also depend on the user’s objectives. For example:
- Depending on whether serum or plasma is required, anticoagulant will be mixed in the blood samples before centrifugation
- Those who want to yield serum from blood specimens need to allow the sample to clot for 15 to 60 minutes (at room temperature). If a centrifuge is used on a serum that is not clotted, fibrin might form. This renders the sample as unusable and unsuitable for testing.
- The centrifuging and processing of blood specimens should take place within two hours after it was collected.
Safety Precautions When Using a Centrifuge
- Make sure you have a level and robust work surface. Always ensure the centrifuge is on a steady and strong surface before operation.
- Make sure the centrifuge is balanced. An unbalanced centrifuge can cause significant damage and might injure the operator of the device. It is recommended that the total mass of each tube is as close as possible. This is especially important when used at very high rotor speeds. It is also ideal to balance masses to the nearest 0.1 gram. The tubes should also be balanced by mass and not volume.
- Make sure the lid is closed when the rotor is moving. Most centrifuges come with a safety shutoff. However, this only stops power to the rotor. The rotor can still spin due to its own inertia for some time until it is slowed to a stop by friction. Also, a little vibration is normal but excessive amounts of vibration can mean danger. At all times, make sure the tubes are balanced correctly.