Will cleansing the venipuncture site with alcohol jeopardize blood alcohol measurement results?

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This study aimed to establish whether an alcoholic antiseptic, wiped or not before venipuncture, may jeopardize alcohol testing with a commercial enzymatic assay and a reference head-space gas chromatography (GC) technique” Lippi et al (2017).

Abstract:

INTRODUCTION: This study aimed to establish whether an alcoholic antiseptic, wiped or not before venipuncture, may jeopardize alcohol testing with a commercial enzymatic assay and a reference head-space gas chromatography (GC) technique.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Venous blood was collected from 23 healthy volunteers, with two sequential procedures. In the first blood collection, 2 mL of alcoholic antiseptic (0.5% chlorhexidine, 70% ethanol) were place on a gauge pad, the venipuncture site of right arm was cleaned but the antiseptic was not let to dry before phlebotomy. In the second blood collection, 2 mL of the same alcoholic antiseptic were placed on another gauge pad, the venipuncture site of left harm was cleaned and the antiseptic was accurately cleansed before phlebotomy. Ethanol was measured with a reference GC technique in whole blood and EDTA plasma, and a commercial enzymatic assay in EDTA plasma.

RESULTS: No subject complained about feeling a particular itchy sensation when the alcohol was not wiped before puncturing the vein. The concentration of alcohol in all EDTA plasma samples was always lower than the limit of detection of the enzymatic assay (i.e., 2.2 mmol/L; 0.1 g/L). Similarly, alcohol concentration was also undetectable using a reference GC technique (i.e., < 0.22 mmol/L; 0.01 g/L) in EDTA plasma and whole blood.

CONCLUSION: It seems reasonable to conclude that using ethanol-containing antiseptics before venipuncture may not be causes of spurious or false positive results of alcohol measurement at least when ideal venipunctures can be performed.

Full Text

Reference:

Lippi, G., Simundic, A.M., Musile, G., Danese, E., Salvagno, G. and Tagliaro, F. (2017) The alcohol used for cleansing the venipuncture site does not jeopardize blood and plasma alcohol measurement with head-space gas chromatography and an enzymatic assay. Biochemia Medica. 27(2), p.398-403.

doi: 10.11613/BM.2017.041.

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