Interference in ionized calcium measurements by heparin salts

Michael Landt, Glen L. Hortin, Carl H. Smith, Adrain McClellan, Mitchell G. Scott

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29 Scopus citations


We determined the suitability of various heparin salts used for anticoagulation of whole-blood specimens for measurement of ionized calcium (iCa), blood gases, and electrolytes. We were particularly interested in a new heparin product containing both zinc and lithium cations (CNLZ heparin), in which the binding sites with greatest affinity for divalent cations are bound with zinc and low-affinity sites with lithium. In initial experiments Li heparin decreased iCa concentrations 0.07 mmol/L at the lowest heparin concentration (3000 units/L) and progressively lowered them at higher concentrations. Zn heparin initially increased iCa concentrations 0.06 mmol/L but progressively lowered them as the heparin concentration was increased. Li heparin interfered even when present in amounts (9 units per 3-mL syringe) minimally effective in preventing coagulation. Use of CNLZ heparin (36 units per 3-mL syringe; Zn 63-78 g/kg of heparin) largely eliminated interference of heparin in iCa measurements. In studies that included the effects of concentration of heparin through partial filling of syringes, specimens anticoagulated with CNLZ heparin compared well with unheparinized controls in measurements of iCa, blood gases, and electrolytes. Blood gases and iCa results on CNLZ-heparinized specimens from intensive-care-unit patients also compared well with specimens anticoagulated with a preparation of heparin (EB heparin) in which calcium has been added to balance the calcium-binding capacity. However, the presence of calcium in EB heparin significantly increased measured total calcium concentrations, whereas the new CNLZ heparin did not interfere in total calcium determinations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-570
Number of pages6
JournalClinical chemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994


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