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20/5, 615-616 (1974)

Specific Gravity of Blood and Plasma at 4 and 37 #{176}C

Raymond J. Trudnowski and Rodolfo C. Rico

The specific gravity (relative density) of human Materials and Methods
whole blood and plasma from 25 healthy volunteers
We used 2-ml volumetric flasks that had been calibrat-
was determined gravimetrically. For whole blood it ed at 37 and 4 #{176}C
by weighing chemically pure mercury in
was found to be 1.0621 (95% confidence interval: them. The subjects contributing blood were 25 members
1.0652-1.0590) at 4 #{176}C
and 1.0506 (95% confidence of the Institute and laboratory staff (six women and 19
interval: 1.0537-1.0475) Plasma specific
at 37 #{176}C. men) who were in apparent good health. Their ages
gravity was 1.0310 (95% confidence interval: ranged between 29 and 58 years. Sampling was done be-
1.0324-1.0296) and 1.0205 (95% confidence
at 4 #{176}C tween 9:30 a.m. and 11:00a.m., before lunch was eaten.
interval: 1.0216-1.0193) at 37 #{176}C.
All of these values From the antecubital vein, we obtained 10 ml of blood,
are referred to the density of water at 4 #{176}C. We which was promptly heparinized. The blood and closed
show the relationship between these values and volumetric flasks were cooled to 4 #{176}C
for 1 h. The volu-
those given in the literature for measurements at 25 metric flask was then filled with blood to the calibration
There was a small increase in whole blood spe-
#{176}C. mark, stoppered, warmed to room temperature, and
cific gravity with increasing hematocrit, but it was weighed without the stopper. It was then warmed to 37 #{176}C
not statistically significant over the 40-56 hematocrit and reweighed after excess blood above the calibration
range studied. line was removed. The procedure was repeated with plas-
ma. All measurements were made in duplicate. Microhe-
The specific gravity (relative density) of whole blood matocrits were determined in duplicate in capillary tubes
and plasma has been used to estimate its hemoglobin (1) after centrifuging for 5 mm at 7000 x g.
and protein (2) content. Improved techniques for directly
determining these values have relegated determinations of
specific gravity to use in blood banks for screening pur- Microhematocrit values varied between 40 and 56
poses. (mean, 48.1). The mean specific gravity of whole blood
In sensitive clinical chemical and enzymatic analyses, was 1.0581 at 37 #{176}C
(water reference, 37 #{176}C)
with a 95%
knowledge of the correct value for the specific gravity of confidence interval of 1.0612-1.0550. It was 1.0621 at 4 #{176}C
blood and plasma can be very useful. A major source of (water reference, 4 #{176}C)
with a 95% confidence interval of
error in these determinations is in volume measurement, 1.0652-1.0590.
errors deriving from (e.g.) improper alignment of liquid Mean plasma specific gravity, again measured with the
levels, uneven drainage of liquid from pipet walls, and use of the water reference temperatures mentioned above,
temperature variations during pipetting. Because gray- was 1.0278 at 37 #{176}C (95% confidence interval: 1.0290-
imetry of samples and reagents is not subject to errors of 1.0266) and 1.0310 at 4 #{176}C (95% confidence interval:
this kind, its use should improve the accuracy of such de- 1.0324-1.0296).
terminations. Weight can be expressed as volume if the Converting the values measured at 37 #{176}C
to a reference
specific gravity or density is known. value of the density of water at 4 #{176}C gave the following
The specific gravity of blood or plasma is usually re- values: whole blood, 1.0506 (95% confidence interval:
ported at 20 or 25 #{176}C,which is considered to be “room 1.0537-1.0475) and plasma, 1.0205 (95% confidence inter-
temperature.” Room temperature, however, varies consid- val: 1.0216-1.0193). The values referred to water at 4 #{176}C
erably. Temperatures of 4 or 37 #{176}C
are more meaningful, are plotted in Figure 1, together with standard values
because these temperatures are commonly maintained in given in the literature at 25 #{176}C
laboratory equipment.
Data on the specific gravity of human blood and plasma Discussion
at these temperatures were unavailable, so we determined The usual methods of determining the specific gravity
these values for our laboratory use, and report them here of blood involve comparison with a solution of known spe-
for others who may find them useful. cific gravity (1, 2, 4-8). Although these are useful and
Department of Anesthesiology, Roswell Park Memorial Insti-
simple, we thought that volumetric errors might be intro-
tute, New York State Department of Health, 666 Elm St., Buffa- duced if we used them here. We therefore returned to the
lo, N. Y. 14203. fundamental method of weighing an accurately measured
Received Jan. 28, 1974; accepted Feb. 25, 1974. volume in a volumetric flask and comparing its mass with

CLINICAL CHEMISTRY, Vol. 20, No. 5, 1974 615

20. 1. mean specific gravity at 37 #{176}C.0600 1.0011. #{149}. Phillips. Ed. Med. When blood is added.040 0 . ure 2). KIm. hematocrit. hematocrit.. can also be al Academy of Sciences. been using this Figure to obtain specific gravities graphi- 2. We have Biol. No. gravity declined with temperature as expected. S. M.0200 tocrit Abscissa. Reznikoff. Biol. Pathol. Barbour.. Edinburgh Clin. gravity method with reference to the control of fluid therapy in Compensating manipulations such as standardizing plas.444(1892). Calculation of hemoglobin from blood specific gravities. Invest. Chem. Nation- collecting tubes.. Med.080 ... statisti- cally analyzed the data. 616 CLINICAL CHEMISTRY. B.349(1950). Z. Specific 1. If a falling drop method.. Vol. J.060 + 0 I 0500 U- U 4’ UJ a. such as 30 protein content of plasma and serum. 1. W.0100 0 10 20 30 40 TEMPERATURE-DEGREESCENTIGRADE ma content and adjusting the hematocrit to a reference Fig. mean specific gravity at 4 #{176}C referred to water at 4 #{176}C 1.p51. Ordinate: specific gravity referred to water at Abscissa: temperature #{176}C. the 3. A. the tube D. National Research Council. References There is a linear relationship between our values and the reference values given for 25 #{176}C (Figure 1). G.1-50 50. P. S.. II The estimation of total #{176}C. 242 (1959).1974 .0700 I. The slope of the average reading at both tempera. Relation of whole blood specific gravity to hema- . S. Specific gravity of whole blood and plasma. Exp. Note on a method of measuring the specific gravity volume accurately calculated. 183. . F. In this hematocrit range. it is doubtful for determining specific gravity. M. Washington preweighed and stored. Okee Jung. 4 #{176}C. D. Clin. 7. Hamilton. Handbook of Biological Data. P. J..C. Kagan. 561 (1883-1884). 0 plasma Mrs. R. 2.. 21. 69. 20. and Hamilton. P.1-56 HEMATOCRI T Fig. Department of Biostatistics. L. Spector. may be reweighed at a convenient time and the sample 4. J. 38. An evaluation of the copper sulphate blood specific values for specific gravity for the various hematocrits.0.. mass casualties. C. of the blood for clinical use..070 >- I.5. B. Acta Haematol. J. 373 (1938). 1.050 > . A simple method for the estimation of total cally at other commonly used temperatures. Van Slyke. 1956. V. the mass of an equal volume of water taken as the stan- dard. Hammerschlag. 625 (1926). Ordinate. Poller.. Roy. specific gravity. A. et al. 441 (1923).0400 .. One would expect the specific gravity of blood not only 5. with or without reagent. A mathod for the determination of the specific specific gravity increase with increasing hematocrit (Fig. J. Dole. D. whether one would be justified in using different mean 8. Eine neue Methode zur Bestimmung des to decrease with temperature but also to increase with the specifischen Gewichts des Blutes. Chem. there was an insignificant 6. whole blood.. pH and Pc02 by tonometry might introduce errors that healthy adults would negate any benefits.0300 40-45 45. gravity of blood cells. For our subjects. referred to water at 37 #{176}C. William S. blood specimen is stored refrigerated until analysis. 17. protein content of human plasma and serum by the use of the We find the value for 4 #{176}C is useful in another way. The falling drop method tures was 0. T > 4 .

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