Researchers have developed an automated blood drawing and testing device that provides rapid results and allows health care practitioners to spend more time treating patients.
The study, published in the journal TECHNOLOGY, suggests that the device provides highly accurate results from a white blood cell test, using a blood-like fluid spiked with fluorescent microbeads.
It includes an image-guided robot for drawing blood from veins, a sample-handling module and a centrifuge-based blood analyser, researchers said.
The testing used artificial arms with plastic tubes that served as blood vessels.
"This device represents the holy grail in blood testing technology," said co-author Martin L. Yarmush from the Rutgers University-New Brunswick in New Jersey.
"Integrating miniaturised robotic and microfluidic (lab-on-a-chip) systems, this technology combines the breadth and accuracy of traditional blood drawing and laboratory testing with the speed and convenience of point-of-care testing," Yarmush added.
According to researchers, diagnostic blood testing is the most commonly performed clinical procedure in the world, and it influences most of the medical decisions made in hospitals and laboratories.
But the success rate of manually drawing blood samples depends on clinicians' skill and patient physiology and nearly all test results come from centralised labs that handle large numbers of samples and use labour-intensive analytical techniques, researchers added.
The device could provide rapid test results at bedsides or in ambulances, emergency rooms, clinics and doctors' offices.