Pathologic blood samples tolerate exposure to vibration and high turbulence in simulated drone flights, but plasma samples should be centrifuged after flight.
Abstract: Most of the previous studies of drone transport of blood samples examined normal blood samples transported under tranquil air conditions. We studied the effects of 1- and 2-hour drone flights using random vibration and turbulence simulation (10-30 g-force) on blood samples from 16 healthy volunteers and 74 patients with varying diseased. Methods: Thirty-two of the most common analytes were tested. For biochemical analytes, we used plasma collected in lithium heparin tubes with and without separator gel. Gel samples were analyzed for the effect of separation by centrifugation before or after turbulence. Turbulence was simulated in an LDS V8900 high-force shaker using random vibration (range, 5–200 Hz), with samples randomly allocated to 1- or 2-hour flights with 25 or 50 episodes of turbulence from 10 to 30 G. Results: For all hematologic and most biochemical analytes, test results before and after turbulence exposure were similar (bias < 12%, intercepts < 10%). However, aspartate aminotransferase, folate, lactate dehydrogenase and lipid index increased significantly in samples separated by gel and centrifugation prior to vibration and turbulence test. These changes increased form 10 G to 30 G, but were not observed when the samples were separated after vibration and turbulence. Conclusions: Whole blood showed little vulnerability to turbulence, whereas plasma samples separated from blood cells by gel may be significantly influenced by turbulence when separated by spinning before the exposure. Centrifugation of plasma samples collected in tubes with separator gel should be avoided before drone flights that could be subject to turbulence.