Difference Between Blood Plasma & Blood Serum

Written by faithann marie
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
Difference Between Blood Plasma & Blood Serum
Differences between blood plasma and blood serum (blood cells image by Marko Kovacevic from Fotolia.com)

Human blood is comprised of many elements, and over half the blood in the body is comprised of liquid plasma or serum. These substances are similar and collected using the same method, but specimens are separated utilising specially designed collection tubes that extract only serum or plasma. Samples may be used for specific medical testing and to identify medical abnormalities. The physical appearance of a specimen can also indicate potential health problems, even prior to testing.

Other People Are Reading

Collection

Collection is performed using specialised plasma separator, plasma preparation and serum separator tubes. A centrifuge is used to separate the plasma or serum from the whole blood components, including red and white blood cells. After centrifugation is completed, the heavier whole blood cells settle to the bottom of the specimen tube, with the plasma or serum at the top. The required sample is pipetted or poured off into additional tubes for testing.

Blood Plasma

Healthy plasma appears as a light yellow, translucent liquid. Human blood is composed of approximately 55% plasma, and plasma is composed of 90% water. The remaining 10% contains minerals, hormones, electrolytes, waste products and nutrients to provide energy for the body. Also, it transports essential gasses throughout the body, including oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen.

Blood Serum

Normal serum is identical in appearance and composition to plasma, containing the same levels of minerals and water. The difference is a clotting factor called fibrinogen, which is lacking in a serum sample. Abnormal serum samples may appear milky, cloudy or deep yellow in colour indicating potential health problems, such as high cholesterol and jaundice.

Fibrinogen

Only found in blood plasma, fibrinogen is a critical element required for the body to begin the clotting process. Without this element the body has no ability to contain bleeding and abnormal levels can result in clotting disorders, with the most commonly associated medical condition being haemophilia. Disorders of this nature are often treated by plasma donations and medical treatment can vary based on condition and severity.

Testing Blood Plasma and Serum

Some medical testing is specific to serum or plasma, while other testing can be performed on either specimen. Coagulation or clotting tests, ammonia and potassium testing can only be performed on plasma due to the presence of fibrinogen, or the clotting process.

Don't Miss

Filter:
  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
Sort:
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the eHow.co.uk site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.